I was caught by the sight of my own hands trimming pastry last week as my husband and I made apple pies. I have come late to pastry making, even though I started baking when I was ten years old, I only started baking pies last year. Despite the late start, it seemed that my hands instinctively knew how to mix, roll out and trim the pastry. They knew this from the countless times I watched my mother do it.
This is a picture of my mother’s hand; it was taken on Mother’s day 2009 and she is showing off a family ring that her five children gave her to replace one she had lost.
I remember when she saw the picture and lamented her ‘old’ hands; with fingers that won’t completely straighten out any more, perhaps remembering her mother’s hands in her later years. But I don’t see that, I see hands that have have performed countless tasks from the most basic to the most beautiful.
A mother’s hands are usually the first one to tend you… change your diaper, feed you… the basics of life: food and clothing. One of my earliest memories is of my mother reading to me; her hands held books before I was capable of holding them on my own and inspired in me a lifelong love affair with reading.
My mother was in many ways typical of mothers of her generation: she baked, cooked, cleaned, sewed, knit, gardened, pickled, preserved etc. Her hands were constantly busy. She taught her children many of those skills and we can all do some of them, although not one of us does all of them. What was not typical was that she also worked outside the home much of our growing up years, continually mastering new workplace skills, with both head and hands.
In my mother’s retirement she took up cross-stitch, creating beautiful works of art, inspiring all four of her daughters to do so as well. She embraced the world of the internet, first getting a laptop to keep in touch with us while they wintered in Florida, learning the intricacies of the internet, then an e-reader and now an Ipad mini.
Most recently my mother’s hands have tended my father as he underwent treatment for throat and tongue cancer, cleaning the open wound, organizing his nutritional intake through the feeding tube and probably countless tasks to which I haven’t been privy.
So, when I look at my mother’s hands, I don’t see old hands; I see hands that taught me countless things, hands that gave and received love, hands that reveal a life of blessing and challenge, hands that reflect a life well lived and loved.
And that’s my window on God’s world.