Not so many years ago, the evening television was on and I sat with our little one, noticing the characteristics of his face and body and was struck by the differences between our hands, his and mine. The size and shape and color and texture and complexion and strength and the lives that each represented were alarming in their dissimilarities.
His tender innocence was spoken of in the smooth, plump whiteness and delicacy of grasp. Those little fingers have never known an agony or pain, either physical or emotional. Oh, I suppose there have been times when he has awoken in the night when Mommy or I have been away and he might have known fear or alarm at being alone in his little world. But, the unscarred and unblemished hands attest to an ignorance of heartache and trauma. They have caused no pain or misery of whatever scale. They have only touched in love and exploration and learning, in discovering their world. The slobbery, chubby fingers have only reached out to Mommy’s or Daddy’s face or hands and arms, or brothers’ or sisters’ and known love and wonder. They have not been stabbed with the thorns of life and involvement; have not known betrayal or deceit in shadowed seclusion. His baby’s hands are pure. And mine are not. What defilement they cannot imagine and renderings unknown have yet to be. No scorn has caused them to sweep aside the glances of hurt loved-ones’ eyes, no condescension revealed in a thumping knock or troubling grasp.
Darkened and swollen with work, scarred and abused, only knowing tenderness with their increasing age, appreciation, and maybe even a little wisdom; knowing regret and forgiveness, my hands seek his face and cradle it with love. His eyes fix to mine for a moment as my creased and thickened hands frame his innocent countenance, gently pressing his baby cheeks to envelop their softness.