You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands … you shall be happy.
What we do with our hands inevitably feeds us or steals our nourishment from us. Few of us are physically laboring in fields to grow our own food, but most of us do work that provides income that eventually brings food to our table. But the labor of our hands goes far beyond the reality of a paycheck. Our hands are the mediators of grace in our own and others' lives, and they can also be the mediators of pain. It can be a startling exercise to reflect on where our hands have labored during the course of a day. Have they wiped someone’s tears away, or held a phone to converse with a loved one, or embraced a child, or written a memorandum with care and sensitivity, or sliced vegetables with a sense of gratitude? In countless ways in the course of a day, our hands do the work that sprinkles all around us blessings like the most delicate and beautiful stardust. Such blessings become our food, and the joy of our heart.
But what if our hands have been working to undermine the efforts of another, or been raised in violence at someone who has offended us, or slammed cupboard doors in anger, or written words that hurt or diminish another person, or been engaged in deception and falsehood? Then the work of our hands is like a vacuum sucking away every trace of nourishing blessing, and our heart feels covered in thick and tasteless mud.
How has your heart been fed or depleted by where your hands have been today?
O God, my fingers ply the threads that have the potential for good or evil. Let me keep watch over their work.
These reflections by Renee Miller first appeared at www.explorefaith.org
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