I just love this image. Riveted my attention first time I saw it. My first thought was: what in the world is that? Oh, ok, now I get it. Second thought: what contortions did everyone have to bend into to get their hands in those positions… Third thought: there just seems to be no end to what we can do with our hands. It amazes me to think of the limitless sets of skills we can acquire–the endless training we can give our hands: from coaxing music out of an instrument to building a skyscraper, from drawing an image on paper to signing a language in the air, from giving a healing massage to delivering a fatal martial blow to simply waving hello or goodbye our hands are the very extension of our desire and purpose in life. They reveal who we really are–much more than do our words.
Just the night before last a young man asked me how he could really know for sure that God existed and cared about him. Now there’s a big question. And though he was looking for an answer in words and ideas, the real answer lies not in our heads but in our hands. In the language Jesus spoke, to know is yida. Unexpectedly, the roots of the word yida form the word for “hand.” To know in Hebrew/Aramaic is not to hold an idea in our heads, but to hold its reality in our hands. True knowing is to know the way a carpenter knows the feel and weight of his tools, the way a musician knows her instrument when it falls naturally into her grasp, the way a lover knows the curves of his beloved’s face. When Adam knew Eve, they had a son together–now that’s knowing.
To know for sure that God is real and cares about us is to handle him, experience him, live with his presence day in and out. There is not a thought or concept in heaven or earth that can take us where our hands, as the extensions of our desire, will take us by simply living well the moments of our lives.