Today as we pulled up to Daybreak for Sister Circle, there were two young men pulling up weeds in the yard. I sat there a moment and watched, lost in thought. This was timely, as I thought about their hands and what we were going to talk about today. As we walked the path to the entrance, I heard them talking to each other. It seemed almost effortless, their bending over to pull a weed and moving across the yard. As they worked in tandem they talked and kidded around and laughed. We waved hello and went inside.
Today I found some fingerpaint to share with my Sisters. It wasn’t what I was looking for but it turns out it was exactly what I needed. Life is messy. If we are doing it right, we are going to get our hands dirty. A lot. And that is what will bring beauty to this world. Getting our hands dirty. Just like those young men. I can only imagine the dirt and the green grass stains of those reaching-for-spring purple flower weeds on their hands. And yet what is the result? A beautiful yard and the satisfaction that can only come from hard work and a job well done.
So we talked. About messy lives. About broken relationships and utility bills being so high they just can’t be paid and worries over illness and children and parents and friends and the world. And we painted. With our fingers and hands. They got dirty. It was interesting to see the different levels of discomfort with actually touching the paint.
And then there was Cooter. Who put his whole hands in and even painted his paint plate after he had finished his painting. He does not mind getting his hands or any part of him dirty. At all. And I think that’s pretty cool. This is the same child who, when he found out that they are going to put housing in that cleared area beyond the woods behind our house, blew out a huge puff of air, threw his hands up, and said, “Well good! Maybe now our friends with no houses can move in there. FINALLY!!” Precious. Rambunctious perhaps too. But precious. I hope he never loses his love of getting his hands and his life dirty.
Because it can be scary. And hard. And exhausting. We talked today about how we have to pull the weeds in our own lives before we can even thinking about helping someone else. Truth. We are all works in progress.
Tonight I’m remembering my Mama’s hands. She was never afraid of getting them dirty. Those little hands were strong, even in the later years, suffering with arthritis in the cold as she did. She fileted chicken herself from a whole hen. She snapped and peeled and shelled and shucked and kneaded and patted so many meals’ worth over the years. She dug in the dirt and planted and helped many plants and children to bloom. Mama’s hands were full of taking care of others. It seemed to be her life’s work. In a broken world where special needs adults need guardians and elderly family members need someone to look after and stand up for them, Mama’s hands were there–for signing paperwork, holding hands, changing mussed clothes and bedlinens, and for sharing love.
I have a writer friend who uses her hands to care, to inspire–she writes her words by hand, words that touch hearts and souls, impart wisdom, and carry us back in time. She also uses her hands to find little rays of sunshine in fields and woods and give them a new home–sharing light with the world. Today her hands and arms are covered in a reaction to one of the plants in the “poison” family. My heart and arms ache for her. My fingers are crossed and prayers are said for her discomfort to be eased and her body to heal quickly. And that’s how it goes, isn’t it? We are in the midst of the brokenness, trying to make things better, to help others who are there, and we often wind up hurt and broken ourselves. With our hands dirty.
And that’s where the beauty can be seen. In the darkness. In the midst of pain and sadness and hurt and feeling lost. The beauty is that despite all those dirty hands out there pulling weeds, finger painting, touching hearts, holding hands with the sick and the tender-hearted–despite all of that pain–each one would do it again. My Mama would care for her aunts and her cousin and my Daddy and so many others all over again. Because of love. I’m guessing here but I suspect my writer friend would go and rescue those little flowers again tomorrow. Those young men will pull weeds again, possibly before the grass stains from this time have faded completely.
Beauty is in the strength and courage to walk into a mess and come out with dirty hands and hearts that will never be the same again.
Tonight I am thankful for our Sister Circle, for women who share their stories with each other in the hopes of letting others know they are not alone. I give thanks for the enthusiasm of my littles who were quite thrilled to be included in the finger painting. I pray they will always be so joyful about getting their hands dirty. And I give thanks for women like my Mama and my writer friend and so many others, who inspire me to throw off my cloak of fear and walk into unknown territory to dig, to plant, to guide, and to love. And to get dirty.
May it always be so.
Please, if you have a few minutes, click on the link above to my writer friend’s blog. This story is a special one. She gives us a way for us to walk into heartbreak and shed some light. Many thanks to my friend for sharing Robin’s story. Love to all.