Blessing hands. (Nurses week 2023)

Today we’re doing a thing called the “blessing of the hands.” It’s a tradition that goes back a long time.

For the past three years, our chaplains have gone to each of our units. Nurses (and other coworkers) gather in a small circle. We talk for a minute, we thank them, we put a bit of oil on their palms or the backs of their hands, and we ask God to bless the work of their hands.

I don’t like doing it.

Not because I don’t like calling down the blessing of God on the hands of people who serve. I love that.

I just don’t like feeling like crying while I’m doing it.

Like I am while I’m writing this.

Because I’ve watched those hands, or hands like them in the Neonatal ICU, holding a baby just breaths before death and hear a nurse’s voice saying, “I don’t think people know how much we love these babies.”

Because I’ve watched those hands, or hands like them in the Medical ICU, holding another hand, speaking quietly to a family member near-bye. And then holding a stethoscope gently to verify that the heart isn’t beating any more. And I’ve seen the tears in the eyes outside the room. And I’ve watched the hands foam up and move to the room next door and start caring again.

Because I’ve watched those hands, or hands like them carrying bedpans. And offering hugs. And helping people who holler at them.

In the last month. I’ve seen this. And the one before. And the one before. And the one before. And the year before.

In all the arguments about numbers and percentages, about kids these days and about people not caring and all of our attempts to address big things, I watch individual nurses, people with a calling, care for individual people with pain.

I know. There are other stories, too. There are “but what about that time?” and “What about that one?” But these nurses, the ones with hands outstretched in front of me, with faces I’ve seen in moments that wreck us both?

Why wouldn’t I cry when I look at those hands? Why wouldn’t I bless them?

2 thoughts on “Blessing hands. (Nurses week 2023)

  1. Pingback: The work in front of you. – 300 words a day

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