Today, the words of environmental activist Joanna Macy can inspire us. Hear them in an interview with Krista Tippet on public radio entitled: A world Through the Hand. “I’m looking” says Ms. Macy, “at my hand right now as we talk. It’s got a lot of wrinkles ‘cause I’m 81 years old. But it’s linked to hands like this back through the ages. This hand was shaped by when it was a fin in the mother seas, where life was born. This hand is directly linked to hands that learned to reach and grasp and climb and push up on dry land and weave reeds into baskets. It has a fantastic history. Every particle and every atom in this hand goes back to the first — what Thomas Berry calls ‘the primal flaring forth,’ the beginning of space-time. We’re part of that story.”
Those hands of yours are a marvel, a huge part of humanity’s progress and, for most of us, a large part of our individual progress as well. For some, myself included, the hand is still more. It is a homunculus, a re-presentation of our bodies, or at least, our backs. Let’s see.
Let’s begin by sitting with a table or desk in front of us. Bring the palm of your hand to the surface in front of you—let’s say it’s a desk—and let the whole surface of your hand rest and relax there. Let’s say that your hand’s in love with the surface of your desk; it wants complete contact. Let it have that. Let your shoulders relax away from your spine, just the thought of it. Make sure the elbows aren’t working too hard to maintain your hand on the desk. Think of your elbows opening to the baseboard of the walls that surround you.Free the heel of your hand; it doesn’t need to grip your desk, it’s not going anywhere. Let the heel of your hand open and let it correspond with your lower back, the heel of the hand enjoying its full contact with the desk, your lower back lengthening, widening, and releasing. Do you feel that correspondence? Remain there a moment and simply enjoy it. Now, let the palm of your hand receive the full support of the desk. Free it. Let it open. Let your back open as well: lengthening, widening, breathing, your palm talking to your back, your back talking to the palm.
Let your fingers lengthen on the desk. Let each segment of your fingers telescopes into the other. Free your fingers and release your neck at the same time to let your head free from the torso. Feel the energy of your hand and it just might start to tingle. Don’t be alarmed. Like Ms. Macy, sing the wonders of the hand, of the body electric. Oh, this can be wonder full.