• Sarah Ratermann Beahan

For Our Hands

These are some extraordinarily strange times. In fact, that feels like the understatement of the year, right? Unprecedented. Historic. Unfathomable. Unpredictable.

Just typing those words makes my chest tighten up a little and I feel short of breath and then I panic and try to remember the last time I sneezed and ohgoddoIhavetheCOVID? Anyone else feel this?

My hands are chapped and scaly from washing so much. I am confident that what I thought was obsessive handwashing BC (before coronavirus) was actually the equivalent of wiping my hands on my jeans.

Yesterday I stood at my kitchen sink, staring absently out the window as I lathered up. I’d started the Happy Birthday song, but then got lost in thought and had no idea how long I’d been standing there. I looked down at my hands a little distrustfully. These implements that pass disease, that share germs and could, if not managed properly, kill people.

What a strange thought. Here, these body parts that are in most ways our gateways to the world are suddenly turned against us. I thought of all the things that my hands allow me to do: push a pen across the page, feed myself, lovingly touch my husband and furfamily. They are precious.

It made me think of the idea of making the mundane sacred. Instead of droning the Happy Birthday song or counting “one Mississippi, two Mississippi…” while I scrub up, could I turn this into a moment of gratitude? Or twenty moments of gratitude? Could I take twenty breaths, concentrating only on my breath? Could I think of twenty things that delighted me today?

I am thankful for the sound of birds outside.

…for the fresh arugula I have been eating with every meal.

…for long walks with my dogs.

…for FaceTime.

…for my flannel sheets.

…for my community of friends and creatives all over the world, coming together to support each other.

…for hearing my dad’s voice on the other end of the phone.

…for the ability to work at home.

…for my meditation practice.

…for my favorite fountain pen.

…for the library and ebooks.

…for my husband’s salaried job with health insurance.

…for living in the sticks where social distancing is the norm.

…for a stockpile of toilet paper.

…(let’s be honest) for a stockpile of wine.

…for the health care workers on the front lines.

…for the health care providers doing their damndest to navigate an impossibly new and unpredictable situation.

…for the communities that are showing up for small businesses.

…for my health.

…for this giant, centuries old tree outside my study window.

I am not trying to put a shiny face on what is undeniably a tough situation. But I do wonder if we can find ways to take care of our hearts, our frayed nerves and our safety at the same time.

Be well, take care of those hands.

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