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Prayer & Spirituality

Tools for Prayer

Clenched fist, open hand:

A clenched fist can be useful:

It grasps hold tightly of things we are afraid to lose; it hides what we fear others will see; it becomes a weapon of our hatred or our need to defend ourselves against aggression.

But a clenched fist is also a hand disabled:

A hand that cannot give or receive, or take another hand in friendship; it is unable to pick things up; such a hand will never sow seed in the ground, reassure a frightened child or prepare a meal for friends.
In the Kingdom of the clenched fist fear is the key: fear of the one who wants to challenge my world by being different; fear of those who might succeed at my expense; fear of the nothingness if I don’t hold on to the scraps that I say are my meaning.

What will I choose...clenched fist or open hand? When I am unsure whether I am OK as I am, I want to curl my fingers back into a familiar tight hold; I am ready to strike the one who threatens me. I hold fast to what is mine. I hide who I am in case you reject who I am...but all the while my identity is hidden from me.
If my hand is open, won’t you take everything away?

God reaches out not with a clenched fist, but an open hand...
not to compel, but to invite,
not to destroy but to wake what was dead into life.

To God belongs the might of vulnerability,
the otherness of intimacy.

What will you choose...clenched fist or open hand?

Clench your fists so that your fingers dig deeply into the palm of the hand;
open-hands 3feel the tension and constriction.
Look at your fingers tightly bound,
the blood flow constricted in your knuckles.
Here is your anxiety about the future,
your ill-ease and discomfort,
your holding fast of what does not satisfy,
your fear of being who you are.

God comes to you with open hands:
tender and compassionate hands,
generous, welcoming hands,
waiting, inviting hands.

Now slowly release the tension in your fingers;
watch as they slowly unfurl,
like fern fronds in response to the warmth of spring sunshine.
Let your fingers stretch and play,
your palms open and relaxed before you.
You are ready now to let go,
ready now to receive,
ready now to express who you are,
ready to reach out your hand to another:
not in violence but in love,
not to ward away, but to invite.

Repeat the action:
now clenching your fists
now letting your hands relax and open

God of the open hands
I give you my clenched fists.
Let me take the risk
of allowing you to love me as I am.
Let me dare to give myself
so that I may receive myself
as gift from you.