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One particular day, I stopped fiddling with my ring.
I work for a manufacturing company. I respect and admire the hard-working hands on the shop floor. They are rugged, tough and strong. I, on the other hand, occupy a cubicle and tap a keyboard. Keyboards don’t offer much wear so my hands are rather soft — so much so that I am mindful of it. Handshakes can be a bit perilous for me. Before meetings, you may find me wiping my hands nervously and vigorously on my pants, drying them and abrading them just slightly enough to offer a sufficiently manly palm.
On that particular day, my soft hands drew me into an observation. I noticed, as I twirled my ring with my thumb, a single, hardened callous that stirred me.
My soft hands bear a callous at my wedding ring.
And it hit me.
Is it not symbolic and appropriate? It is where the flesh toughens. The ring, itself, is not rough; it does not abrade. It is the work of the ring, compressing and applying pressure, that demands this response from the flesh.
It is natural. The flesh at the ring, as opposed to the rest of the hand, is protected by the ring, so it may not be easily permeated, penetrated or compromised.
The flesh protected by the ring is part of the open hand and not the fist.
The flesh protected by the ring is the most natural position for the thumb to fold. The opposable thumb: without it, the hand would lose much of its usefulness.
The ring, of course, represents marriage.
The work of the ring represents the responsibilities and accountabilities in marriage, the significance of selflessness and our sacrifices outside of self.
The flesh represents our weaknesses. The callous represents how our weaknesses are made strong in the work of marriage. Its strength is found, not in the fist, but in the open hand, in meekness, in surrender and exposure of self.
The thumb is the spouse, who works with the hand as one. The work of the spouse, together with the hand, deepens the callous, further strengthening and toughening.
The thumb is vitally important. Without it, the hand could never realize its fullest usefulness.
As I considered the strength in those rugged hands on the shop floor, I recognized the strength required in marriage and the importance of the spouse in building that strength. Without my spouse, I would be limited, constrained; my achievements so much harder with much less yield. My legacy, truncated. Without the thumb, my hand could never fully be what it was intended to be.
If your hands represented the strength of your marriage, how would you see your hands?
Author: Ray Helinski
Editor: Caroline Beaton
Photo: Author’s Own