Our hands represent so much. The handshake is a welcome greeting, and the hand wave, a sign of hello or goodbye. We use the word "hand" in phrases such as learning something firsthand, secondhand stores and secondhand clothes, lending a hand, handing it over, giving a hand up or a hand out.
Last week, I learned another descriptive for the word that will stay with me forever. I listened intently as Nancy Barclay and Susan Baker shared their experiences of walking the El Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile trek, through France and Spain. Over 33 days they walked, stayed in villages, ate food with the locals and gratefully accepted the help and hospitality of all they met. The details were inspiring, but one story they shared expressed the journey.
A priest in one of the villages invited them into his church. He spoke to the pilgrims walking the trail about living with an "open hand," living with an attitude that is open to life, to the gifts of life, open to giving of all that we have to give. While on the trail, travelers have only their backpacks and experience how little is needed, how others are eager to help. The Priest actually held his hand out flat, sharing that many will return home and their hands will close as they return to stress, materialism, self-centered decisions, envy and a closed attitude. He then quickly closed his hand.
What do I see when I close my hand? A fist. I look at the strained muscles and tendons, and then open it and feel the weightlessness of that open hand.
How does this all relate to CASA? CASA is about children. Children in our community, whether in the court system, the foster care system or feeling the effects of living in a home with closed fists, need all of us to bring the "open hand" to them in each of our relationships.
If you can become a Court Appointed Special Advocate or a foster parent open to inviting a child into your home or, if you can stop by the El Dorado County Library and pick up a child's wish list from the Giving Tree, or if you can donate to one of our nonprofits that helps to keep children healthy and safe such as the Boys and Girls Club, you will feel the open hand.
The open hand philosophy is all around us ... CASA volunteers, mentors at Tahoe Youth and Family Services, counselors at Live Violence Free, helpers at Bread and Broth, the caring community of the Tahoe Resource Center and every teacher that made a choice to spend their career impacting the lives of children.
I didn't learn about the open hand firsthand, rather I learned it secondhand. But that is the lesson I think. Always have your hand open to life and what may be next.
- For more information about CASA, call 573-3072.