Holding Hands

Her roommate is trying to find something to watch on television and glances at me idly as I pass by.  She’s lying down when I find her room. Her eyes are closed but flutter open when I call her name.  She manages a thin smile.  I reach down and take her hand and she clasps it warmly.

I’ve known this woman for only a few months.  She’s over twice my age.  I’ve visited her once in her home, and she’s a faithful attender of worship, so she sees and hears me there.  It’s not very much of a thread that connects us, it sometimes seems.  Not very much of a thread that allows me to show up unannounced in her hospital room and to sit down on the bed beside where she lies somewhat caddy corner and take her hand.  
Maybe not so thin as I think.  Thin by the world’s standards maybe.  But in the circles she and I run in, the thread is stronger.  It binds and supports and weaves together people from different lives and of different generations.  near strangers made into something much more intimate by the collar around my neck or the robes I wear on Sunday morning to lead worship.  I have certain rights – one of which is to visit this woman and hold her hand as she talks about the fall she had the night before.  About the clamps holding the back part of her skull together where she fractured it.  About the slight bleeding into the brain that worried doctors at first but now appears to be negligible.  About her son who will be taking her back home in just a few minutes to recuperate.
It’s a right she wants me to exercise.  This is the most amazing thing to me still.  That in the midst of suffering and pain and fear and uncertainty, she wants me to be there.  Practically a stranger.  She wants me to take her hand.  To talk with her and convey love and concern and care and prayer.  Ah, but it’s not me.  Not really.  Even without the clerical collar or the robes, even when I just look like me, it’s not me that she sees.  It’s not me that’s really holding her hand.  
She sees someone else.  Someone infinitely older than her.  Someone who has held her in His hands since before her birth, since before the first week of creation was complete.  In my hand she feels His.  In my voice she hears His love, His providence, His protection.  As she struggles to keep her eyes open despite what must be a rather brutal headache, she’s not straining to look at me, but Him.  
This doesn’t bother me or offend me.  It’s a relief, frankly.  The weight of expectation and trust and need would be too much to bear if it were resting on me.  But it’s not.  It rests on Him.  I could never bear that load.  I don’t know anyone other than Him who could.  He’s used to bearing that kind of weight.  And she and I are both grateful for that fact as we hold hands and wait for the wheelchair to arrive.  
We know we’re in good hands.

One Response to “Holding Hands”

  1. Justine Says:

    Beautiful.

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