Saturday, August 03, 2019

hands and grief.

The eyes may be the "window" to the soul. The hands are the more direct connection. When we hold hands, our human care and compassion are shared with each other. When does one know when to hold tighter or let go? Hand holding can hold some awkward moments when one party's grasp lingers too long or too tight, and yet we come into the world alone and will leave the same in a time and situation that's unique, though it's been repeated a billion times.

It is odd to me, how little attention we place on our own human hands. Perhaps that's because in order to attain the efficiency in their use necessary for human survival, they take a back seat in our conscious effort, allowing the brain to claim the illusion of command. For example, the first time we hold a chisel and attempt to direct it to make a cut in wood, the chisel feels awkward in hand, (how do I grip this thing?) and yet with practice and more practice the craftsman goes about his or her work and the hand serves its apparent master.

In actual fact, the hands and brain co-evolved in the earliest age of man as a system in which the hand trains the mind and the mind trains the hand in coequal partnership in the development of human culture. To think of hands and brains as isolated from each other is foolishness whether you are a humble tradesman or the most powerful person on earth.

I lost my younger sister Sue to pancreatic cancer on July 10. I held her hand tightly until it became apparent to both of us that it was time to let go. And so, then what? As a box maker, I've gone through the same routine before. When my father passed away from cancer in 1977, I was a potter here in Eureka Springs and made a raku box to hold his ashes. When my mother died in 2010, I made a wooden box for the burial of his ashes at the site of my father's grave. As we stood there at my father's grave, my nephew David and I taking turns with the shovel, I dug deep and we heard the sound of the shovel's steel scraping on fired clay. We knew we'd found the right spot and the right depth that my mother's ashes and my father's would be united.

This is of course a simple work in progress. The start of tomorrow's presentation on crafting through grief at the Eureka Springs Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 11 AM on Elk St.

Make, fix and create.

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