Thursday, June 06, 2019

Blurred Fingerprints

My husband says that my fingerprints are like those of a carpenter. As a law enforcement officer trained to ink the fingers well and roll from one side to the other to be pressed into white squares on a fingerprint card, he would know. But what do I know of being a carpenter?

Just as wood is worn down rub over rub with sandpaper roughly dragging across its surface, so my fingers are worn from use and productivity. Fingerprints are blurred from heavy use but the marks of those fingerprints have been left in every meal delivered to a friend, bouquet of flowers picked on the side of the road, picnic laid out on a lazy summer day or comfort brought to one in need.

Our hands hold so many things on the daily, they really are a miracle of our Creator attached to our arms. They are bff’s with our brains not necessarily having thoughts but acting on them as soon as we can think them. My hands hold the door open in welcome, the arms of a friend in comfort, a pen doing inner work, a spoon that stirs nourishment which feeds my body, utensils in service to my family and soap bubbles in caring for things and bodies. Like many things, hands have the power to hurt or to help.

My hands can be moody – they let go of things such as releasing a hand in a tender and tearful goodbye and then also struggle with clenching them tightly when I want to be right and am frustrated. My hands can throw or embrace, be gentle and firm, give gifts or try to hold on to control.

Hands trigger memory – the worn-in wonder of an old quilt, wood rubbed smooth on the arm of a rocking chair my great-grandfather used to sit in and rub his hand back and forth over, the water of a bubbling stream flowing over and through our hands in comfort, warmth from digging in the dirt, kneading and shaping a loaf of bread, the pain of an IV when an inexperienced nurse tended me at the birth of our first baby. Painted nails looked lovely on the hospital sheets after having jaw surgery and nothing else about me felt beautiful – my hands were.

We see God’s fingerprints all over our world and yet many choose to ignore or admit that they really belong to God and are His glorious creation. One of His creations is that He has given each of us a unique identity which is not merely limited to our physical fingerprints. We come with strengths and weaknesses to the world and our fingerprints touch thousands of things every day: keys on a keyboard typing a note of encouragement to a friend, pressing the shutter button on the camera to record a memory, fastening buttons and zippers and smoothing hair into place. We also turn the pages of Scripture, grasp pens in frantically writing our list for the day, turn things on and off, clasp them together in prayer around the table and experiencing life in many tangible ways.

What do I know of being a carpenter? Not all that much, but I value the imagery of smoothing rough places and building a legacy that is a cumulative account of where my fingerprints are left. Because in reality, my fingerprints are the physical expression of the work of God – how I manifest Him to those around me. When my fingerprints are all over things that invest in others – it points them to Him. Here is the blessing of the blurred fingerprints, let them not be mine that are deciphered, but His seen all over, in, and through what He has given my hands to do. Let the son of a carpenter, the Son of God, be the one who is evident. Less of me, Jesus, more of you.

** This started as a writing prompt at our Writing With Grace retreat this past February and I was finally able to sit down and finish what began during that time. 

1 comment:

Mom said...

Beautiful!! Several references brought tears to my eyes (Grandpa Ben rubbing his hands on the rocker arms, your polished nails on the sheets after jaw surgery, pressing the camera button to record a memory). I have often thought of how many varied tasks our hands accomplish, but you have put into words the miraculous gift that God has given us in our hands. Well said!