As I entered my teenage years, other people continually observed that I looked far older than my age. As I hit eighteen (and even now), people remark that I look younger than my age. Not that numerical age plays any huge role, but I remember thinking as a child:
“When will my hands look like Mommy’s hands?”
My mother’s hands always looked a little worn to me. I could see small wrinkles in them as she washed the dishes and I dried them; I could see her tiny veins in them as she reached over my shoulder to turn a page of music as I practiced at the piano, and I would watch their folding and unfolding as she hugged me (even if I was the hardest person to hug at the time).
My mother’s hands were worn hands because they worked to care, hold, fix, mend, play music, pick up children, hug my father, and pray.
And I always wondered: “When will my hands look like Mommy’s hands?”
As a single person heading towards turning 39, I doubt my own hands will ever look just exactly like Mom’s hands. I don’t have children of my own or a spouse. Yet it has been in the past year or two that I’ve noticed some wear and tear around my eyes, some drooping in places that never drooped before, and…
Like my mother’s, they are worn with care, work, play, and prayer. I can see tiny crevices and wrinkles forming — the passing of youth into middle age. I have no normative markers to declare what all this wear is from, but I have years of giving and receiving; years of caring for other children and youth; years of finding food for people not my family; and years and years of prayer.
Whether folded in silence, upturned in reception, outstretched in awe or anger, or balled up into fists because I just can’t live life anymore, my hands have become worn with countless hours of prayer.
I am blessed today because my hands do indeed look like my mother’s hands.
What greater gift could I have been given?