Mister Sears sang in the choir of our small church in Dedham, Mass. I noticed that oil and grease and dirt had found almost every pour and crevice of his hands. He owned a crowded lawn mower and small engine repair shop near the church. As a youth and football player I had worked hard to clean hands and nails for the early service. But the hands of Mister Sears and my Dad who was a printer were almost impossible to clean. The shape and color of work was oil and grease and printer’s ink.
And yet they were kind hands, powerful, like spades that dug deep into the earth. How I loved those hands.
What matters is a pure heart, not whether or not your hands are clean. To sing with a heart full of the love of God, to pray with an open mind and heart. To do the work we can do for the love of fixing a machine, or inking a printer’s plate.
I have too little time to spend in judgement of the ones who come with dirty hands. Instead, I pray to “make in me a pure heart, O God”, at the dawn of the day. And try to remember what it means to live in wonder and astonishment of all that is.