The Open Hand – a metaphor for love, community and healing

by Rod Smith

I will listen to you, and make time for you if you'd like to talk.

I will listen to you, and make time for you if you'd like to talk.

Open your hand using all your strength. Stretch your fingers. Allow the lines on your palm to feel as though they might tear apart. Study the contours, colors, ridges and valleys, joints, dents and spaces. Push, pull, and rub. Move your fingers through their paces: together, apart, back, forward, curved, strained and relaxed, cooperative yet unique. Feel the texture and every curve. Touch the crevices. Spread your hand further, turn it at the wrist, examine and compare patterns from every angle. Here are pieces of yourself you might never have studied.

Your hands are your constant companions. They have met the needs of others, pioneered romantic moments and worn rings of commitment. They are the way your heart leaves fingerprints, the eyes at the end of your arms. Hands reflect a person’s being and are the front line agents of your life. If eyes are said to be the windows of a soul, hands express the soul.

Hold other people with your hand thoroughly open. Allow them to know the warmth and welcome of your hand, investigate its curves and benefit from its scars. Invite others to follow the lines into the fabric of your life and see the risks you have taken and the adventures that are yours. Allow them to wrestle and rest, search, see and speak. Let them stay; let them go, but let them find your hand always open.

The Open Hand of friendship, at its widest span, is most rewarding, most challenging and most painful for it enduringly acknowledges the freedom of other people while choosing not to close upon, turn on, coerce or manipulate others. In such friendships, expectations and disappointments become minimal and the reward is freedom. As others determine a unique pace within your open hand, they will see freedom and possibly embrace their own with excitement and pleasure.

Openhanded people do not attempt to “fix” others, change or control them even for their own “good.” Rather each person is given freedom to learn about life in his own way. Openhanded people, instead, express kindly and truthfully what they think and feel, when asked, knowing even in the asking, others might not be interested or willing to learn from their mistakes, successes or life stories.

The Open Hand is not naive. It is willing to trust, while understanding and accepting that no person is all good or all bad, and that all behavior has meaning. The Open Hand is convinced it cannot change others; it cannot see or think or feel or believe or love or see for others, but trusts people to know what is good themselves. It will not strong-arm, pursue or even attempt to convince another because it has little investment in being right, winning or competing. Here is offered a core-freedom of the deepest and most profound nature: allowing others to live without guilt, shame and expectation.

Further, the Open Hand offers oneself freedom that extends to one’s memories, ambitions, failures and successes. This allows for growth of enduring intimacy, greater personal responsibility, authentic autonomy and the possibility of meaningful relationships with others.

In the discovery of a closed hand, even at the end of your own arm, do not try to pry it open. Be gentle. Allow it to test the risky waters of freedom. As it is accustomed to being closed and fist-like, it will not be easily or forcefully opened. So let the closed-handed do their own releasing and trusting, little by little, and in their own time and manner. When openhanded people meet, lives connect in trust, freedom and communion. Community is set in motion. Creativity is encouraged. Mutual support is freely given. Risks are shared. Lives are wrapped in the safety of shared adventure and individual endeavor all at the same time.

© Copyright 1998, Rod. E. Smith, MSMFT

6 Comments to “The Open Hand – a metaphor for love, community and healing”

  1. Hi Rod,

    Thanks for posting the Open Hand, It has helped me realize to open my hands many times in the past, and will be a great inspiration for some new friends now.

    I don’t have an updated email address for you, could you email me and let me know what your new email is.

  2. Hello to ALL! I’m Sue Jet Everson, I found your site on Yahoo! Congrats to All on such a fine job. Very nice Blog Design and the Template Set-up is awesome!

  3. Rod,
    There are many truths found in the “Open Hand”. Thank-you for posting this for all to share.

  4. Hi Rod, so glad i found this. So encouraging!

  5. I was doing my quiet time this morning reading Psalm 90:12-17 and focused on verse 17, “May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us– yes, establish the work of our hands.”

    I googled “metaphor of hands” and found your article. It gave me a deeper understanding of verse 17. Thank you so much for writing this article. I emailed the link to share with my online bible study group.

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