A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of praying with a man called Danny at a conference I was painting at.
Afterwards I gave him a print of one of my paintings ‘I Have Nothing’ depicting empty hands. It’s a painting for when Philip (in my soon to be released novel) meets with Jesus who calls him to be an evangelist.
Philip responds, “But I have nothing.” He holds his empty hands towards Jesus who reassures Philip that is exactly why Jesus is calling him…
The next day Danny wrote this most moving poem:
What do you have when all that you are is stripped away?
When instead of a son – you are an orphan?
When instead of employed – you are redundant?
When instead of respected – you feel despised?
When instead of contentment – you feel empty?
When instead of peace – you feel anxiety?
When instead of healthy – you feel broken?
When instead of alive – you feel dead?
Who are you when the phone stops ringing?
Emails stop arriving?
Friends stop calling?
Who are you when you lose status – a nobody?
A refugee of your old life – homeless?
Uneconomic – worthless?
What do you feel when your community rejects you?
Your church abandons you?
And when you pray there is booming silence?
After years of working, striving, ceaseless activity and dogged determination
Comes the unintended laying aside of old tools and ways of being and doing
And through tears of grief it is only then that we may see the gift
of empty hands.
Empty hands are ready to respond
Empty hands are available to reach out
Empty hands can pick up heavy burdens and share the load
Empty hands are not idle or worthless hands
Empty hands hold nothing – but the promise of being filled anew
They are ready and waiting
Ready to touch; hold; sign; paint; type; play; feed; make; heal
Empty hands were needed to receive nails – Although it is not our hands that need to be pierced
Just our lives …
So that in dying we might be reborn
It has taken time and pain
But I am ready to receive empty hands
And find in them the blessing
Of being loved for who I am
And not what I can, or cannot, do.
Danny Paine-Winnett 10th January 2017