Monday, June 21, 2010

Beautiful Hands

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Beautiful Hands

Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder. When I was in high school, my English teacher spent one snowy, late afternoon class waxing eloquent about the beauty of feminine charms. One of the things he valued most highly in the fairer sex was lovely, soft, well manicured hands. That male perspective of beauty stuck with me into my adulthood and became a quintessential element in my "beauty" routine. Many an evening did I spend soaking my hands in wax, manicuring my nails in the latest French style, conditioning my cuticles and endlessly rubbing lotion into my hands in an effort to attain this sought after hallmark of beauty.

Fastforward. We move to Idaho. First, there were children. Next came the cow, followed by a garden and chickens. Nicely trimmed and manicured nails and soft hands became a thing of the past. Just trying to keep my hands and nails trimmed and clean was a challenge. Somehow, I had failed. I hid my hands when going out in public. Nobody wanted to see my rough, work hardened hands. Huge fissures and broken nails were less than attractive.

Then something changed. No, my hands didn't change. My perspective changed. I was talking with my friend "Kathy" one day. Kathy works harder than anyone I know. She cares for the daily needs of her family of 8, she lives with no electricity, she washes clothes by hand, she makes all her meals from scratch. She had band-aids on every finger. Every one! I asked her what had happened. She said "oh, nothing, I just can't keep my fingers together!" She took one of the band-aids off to reveal deep fissures and bleeding, broken skin. Kathy's hands were beautiful! It was at that moment that I realized true beauty. Kathy's hands were beautiful because they were the hands of a servant. I am sure they were very similar to the hands of Christ. Kathy's hands were beautiful because they kneaded bread, cooked meals, cleaned house, massaged weary muscles, bandaged children's owies and wrapped themselves around her work worn husband. Kathy's hands were beautiful because she used them in the service of others. They were beautiful because they represented love.

I left Kathy's house that day with my head held high. I, too, have beautiful hands. My hands are worn and calloused. They are work hardened, red and sometimes bleeding. But they turn to silk when caressing my husband. They warm my children's cold bodies when they come in from outside. They wipe tears, stop bleeding and press against fevered brows.

I no longer lament the loss of my "beautiful" hands. I now embrace the reality of truly beautiful hands.


  1. Hello Enola, I know this is a late comment, but I just had to say that this is one of my favorite essays I've read on your blog, and I have found myself returning to it regularly to re-read. Thank you so much for sharing all that you do with us!

  2. Enola - I have just found your blog - not sure how I got here - and I am very much enjoying all of your entries so far. I am reading the entries from the beginning and am very glad that you have so many.

    I find your outlook on life and your Christian values very beautiful. This is the third post that has put tears in my eyes and a big smile on my face all at the same time.

    Thank you!