Sunday, 26 June 2011

(A gift from the past &) A Woman's Hands

Prologue: This morning, in a frantic episode involving a suspected mouse - there wasn't one - we emptied a long-forgotten drawer (you know, THAT drawer, the one filled with slim-fitting-small-sized-pre-baby bathing costumes and things that will probably never look good again but you have to keep anyway). At the bottom I found the last things my Nanna Shirl knitted for me before she died 11 years ago - a white hat and scarf. If you're a regular reader you will have "met" my Nanna before (here and here ) - she's never very far from my thoughts.

I'd already drafted the following post and it felt fitting that I should have found something made by those particular hands today - it gave me a real feeling of connectedness at the thought that each of those stitches were made by her arthritic hands going clickety-clack on her long metal needles. It was both comforting and sad at the same time. Shirl was a prolific knitter - I wish I still had more of the things she made.

Here's the post I had planned:
A few weeks ago I wrote about the Blessingway I'd attended and that I'd been moved by some of the words. I am delighted to be able to share some of those words with you here.
A Woman's Hands - photo taken by My Boy
"Think of your hands, think of the most unforgettable hands that you have known~ the hands of your father, mother, your grandparents. Remember the oldest hands that have rested in your hands. Think of the hands of a newborn child. Of the incredible beauty, perfection, delicacy in the hands of a child. Once upon a time, your hands were the same as this.

Think of all the things your hands have done since then. So much of what you have learnt has been through your hands~ turning yourself over, crawling, learning to hold something for the first time, feeding yourself, washing and bathing, dressing yourself. At one point, your greatest accomplishment was tying your own shoes.

Think of all the learning your hands have done and how many activities they have mastered. Think of all the things they have made. Remember the day you could write your name.

Our hands are not just for ourselves but for others. How often they were given to help another. Remember all the kinds of work they have done, the tiredness they have known, the cold and the heat, the soreness and the bruises. Remember the tears they have wiped away, our own and another’s, the blood they have bled, the healing they have experienced. How much hurt, anger even violence they have expressed, and how much gentleness, tenderness and love they have given.

How often have they been folded in prayer, patience and meditation.; a sign of both their powerlessness and their power. Our foremothers guide these hands to women’s work.

There is a mystery that we discover in the hand of a woman. That we love.
There are the hands of a mother, a sister, a wise woman, an artist, healer, a strong woman, a woman in need. Hands which you can never forget.

Place your hands now on your abdomen, where your womb is or has been. Feel the deep well of power there. Honour the depth, the life, the connections to our mothers, the cycles, the rhythm and the strength.

Slowly raise your hand and place it over your heart. Press firmly until you can feel the beating of your heart, that most mysterious of all sounds, your own heartbeat, a rhythm learnt in the womb from the heartbeat of your mother. Press more firmly just for a moment and then release your hand, holding it just a fraction from your chest. Experience the warmness there between your hand and your heart. Now lower your hand very carefully to your lap as if it were carrying your heart. For it does ~ when you extend your hand to another it is not just bone and skin, it is your heart that you share.

Place your hands in your lap. Think of all the hands and hearts that have left their imprint on you. Fingerprints and handprints and heart-prints can never be erased. Now think of all the people and places that bear your heart-print. They are indelible and will last forever."

My heartfelt thanks to Keeley Farrington for sharing this beautiful section of the Blessingway ceremony. Keeley is a Mummy to 3, a Doula and Celebrant - you can read more about her work and contact her through The Red Thread Mothers Circle Blog. 


  1. Thought provoking and beautiful as always x

  2. Alice and Raymond26 June 2011 at 22:00

    thats lovely! thank you for sharing that... I agree, hands are so special, and during winter mine get really sore and swollen in the joints and I worry that they'll freeze up and I won't be able to do all the things I love, like knit and crochet! This year my vow is to take better care of them when it gets cold so they last me well into old age! :O)
    Love your nana's hat, you look gorgeous in it and how special that you still have it, a hug from your nana every time you put it on

  3. Looking gorgeous as always x

  4. Reminded me of this:

    And also, you've had that hat 11 years and its still white!? x

  5. Natasha, I love that poem - thanks for linking it.

    And yes, it's still white - I also have a washing machine ;-)


  6. Hi Sarah, so so happy to find this and the blog about Sarah's blessingway! I know its a while ago now but I'm so touched to read your lovely words. Much love to you xxx


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