A Reflection by Rita Waters, RSM
“Take my hand, precious Lord, lead me on.”
As I sang this lyric at Mass, I pondered the reasons we take another’s hand.
CONNECTION. We greet folks with a handshake. Who wouldn’t agree that the substitute Covid Elbow Bump was awkward at best and left us feeling a bit empty? There’s something wonderfully rich in experiencing the warmth and grip of another’s hand that a Bump–while it tried–just couldn’t convey.
SAFETY/PROTECTION. How many times have you seen a parent grasp the hand of their child while crossing the street? I know a person fearful of flying who will even grab the hand of the stranger in the next seat during takeoff! To
reach out and grasp another’s hand for safety is a natural response to perceived danger. It says, “I’m not in this alone.”
SWEET MIRACLE. When holding an infant, we love to extend our pinky finger to see what happens. “Oh! Look! Look!” we coo and gush, “She’s grasping my finger with her little hand!” We announce this as if we are the first ones ever to discover the sweet miracle of this natural progression in a baby’s development. Yet, we are thrilled, and those tiny integers wrapped around our finger gives us joy and delight like nothing else.
HELP. While in Jamaica, I joined a group climbing a waterfall. Halfway up, I became paralyzed with fear, clinging to slippery rocks while water cascaded over me. Eventually another climber noted my distress, returned, extended his hand and pulled me to the next level where I could continue upward. “Will you give me a hand with this?” We’re not asking someone to donate their hand, simply requesting some help.
COMFORT. In the wordlessness of grief, when speaking is trite or too shallow for the depth of sorrow, what do we do? We take the other's hand in ours and humbly, but profoundly, be with them in the pain.
COMMITMENT. Long have we used the phrase “to give one’s hand in marriage.” It proclaims: “I am sticking with you through ups and downs, ins and outs; I am committed to our life together and I’ll be there for you no matter what.”
“Take my hand, Precious Lord, lead me on.” If indeed we are made in God’s spirit and image, then like our Lord, we are called to accompany and lead others in a way that - offers help - provides safety - makes connections - gently comforts - and promises commitment. And yes –all of this is every bit as sweet a miracle, as common and as astonishing a miracle, as a newborn’s grip.
So, Precious Ones, take the hand of those around you and lead.