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Shasta Nelson, M.Div. Headshot

Blessing of the Open Hands

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Anyone who hangs out with me for long will frequently hear me use the metaphor of an open hand. It's a hand gesture where a hand is cupped, palms up. Relaxed in a way, and yet, intentional enough that I could bring water to my lips with those fingers if needed.

The very act of making those open hands has become my own little mantra in life, inviting my heart to reflect the handmade sign. It's how I want to show up in life, especially in my relationships.

What Open Hands Are Not

For when I see those open hands I am reminded of all that they are and, conversely, all that they are not.

  • If my hands are open -- then that means they are not limp, by my side, unwilling, un-noticing, or incapable of being ready to receive.
  • If my hands are open -- then that means I am not clinging, fists tight, trying to hold, control, keep or grasp.
  • If my hands are open -- then that means I am not palms out, pushing away, putting up walls, resisting, defending, refusing to let life in.
  • If my hands are open -- then that means they are not flat and stretched, unable to hold anything of value, refusing to be a safe container for that which is given in my life.
  • If my hands are open -- then that means they aren't trying to stretch the fingers ever wider to hold more and more. For they would know that as the fingers spread, so do the gifts begin to seep out like sand through the cracks.

No, I want to step into life with gentle, but firmly-cupped hands. Not needing to grab, push, cling, force or refuse. Rather, I show up with a readiness that says I will look for things to hold, people to love, life to relish, moments to enjoy, gifts to appreciate.

What Open Hands Remind Me

Open hands remind me that I am deserving of goodness. I am worthy, willing and capable. I refuse to let past rejection, fears, insecurities and previous losses stop me from being ready to receive this time. I value living life fully and I will look for moments to cherish and love.

Open hands remind me that if I give freedom to goodness to land in my life, then I also give freedom to see those same gifts fly away. In their own time. I can't not control one and then try to control the other. An airport cannot choose to only accept arrivals and not departures; there are valid times for travel in both directions. I cannot force people to stay here any longer than I can force time to stand still. I cannot manipulate, coerce, charm or trap gifts to last forever.

And should I ever be tempted to close my hand around something, I inevitably have just closed my hand to other gifts as well. Ironic, that the very gesture of trying to keep one thing can be the gesture that prevents other good things.

Sometimes we're so focused on refusing to let go of one thing that we miss the other opportunities. We hold so tight that we suffocate the very breath that we never wanted to lose. With tight hands we squish the bug we were trying to save, melt the chocolate we wanted for later, or find fingernail marks in our skin because we clenched too hard. That which we wanted to keep, we lost anyhow. And now our hands are just messy and sore.

Open hands remind me to engage, to not give up, to expect, to hope and to cherish. They teach me to let go, to unclench, to find peace. They offer me moments of joy and loss, inviting me to find contentment in both.

My Open Hands Blessings

My open hands invite me to embrace, hug and cherish the people in my life now.

My open hands remind me to feel grateful for those relationships even when they have flown away.

My open hands provide me a visual promise that I anticipate a future filled with more love.

This Thanksgiving, I hold my hands open. Grateful for the blessings. Those blessings that I have now, the ones I have had and those that are still yet to come.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends.

This post is a re-post from Shasta's Friendship Blog. To receive her weekly blog update, you can subscribe on her blog. She also writes monthly for The Huffington Post, becoming her fan on the top right of this page will alert you when a new post is added.

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