some ninety plus years
sitting feebly on a patio bench
not moving with his head down
just staring at his hands
so I sat down beside him
he appeared not to notice

as I sat longer I began
to wonder if he was OK
not wanting to disturb him
yet needing to check on him
finally asked if he was OK

He raised his grizzled head
looked at me and smiled
Yes, I’m fine, thanks for asking
he said in a strong clear voice

I didn’t mean to disturb you, Grandpa,
but you were just sitting here
just staring at your hands
I wanted to make sure you were OK

Have you ever looked at your hands
I mean really looked at your hands?

I slowly opened my hands
stared down at them
turned them over
palms up then palm down.
No, I guess I had never
really looked at my hands
as I tried to figure out
what point he was making.

Grandpa smiled and related his story
Stop and think for a moment
about the hands you have
how they have served you
throughout your years

These hands though wrinkled,
shriveled and weak now
have been the tools
I have used all my life
to reach out grab and embrace life
They braced and caught my fall
when as a toddler
I crashed upon the floor

They put food in my mouth
and clothes on my back
As a child I was taught
to fold them in prayer

They dried the tears of my children
caressed the love of my life

They tied my shoes
pulled on my boots
They held my rifle
and wiped my tears
when I went off to war

They have been dirty,
scraped, raw, swollen, bent

Decorated with my wedding band
they showed the world I was married
and loved someone special
They were uneasy, clumsy
when I tried to hold
our first newborn child

They wrote the letters home
trembled and shook those sad times
I buried my parents then my spouse
walked my daughter down the aisle

Yet they were strong
when I dug my buddy
out of a foxhole
and lifted a heavy plow
off my best friend’s foot

They have held children,
consoled neighbors,
shook in fists of anger
when I didn’t understand.

They covered my face
washed and combed my hair
cleansed the rest of my body

They have been sticky and wet
bent and broken, dried and raw
And to this day when not much
else of me works real well
these hands hold me up
lay me down again
continue to fold in prayer

These hands are the mark
of where I’ve been
the ruggedness of my life

But more importantly
it will be these hands
that God will reach out
and take when he leads me home
And with these hands He
will lift me to His side
where I will use these hands
to touch the face of Christ

I will never look at my hands
quite the way same again
But I remember God reached out
took my Grandpa’s hands
then led him home

When my hands are hurt or sore
or when I stroke the faces
of my children and wife
I think of Grandpa.
I know he has been stroked, caressed
and held by the hands of God.
I, too, want to touch the face of God
and feel His hands upon my face.