You can tell quite a bit about a person's life and personality by looking at their hands. I have often thought but never said aloud that my hands are one of my best features. When we were living in New York City for only a few months, a friend of mine from a publicity agency asked me if I would be willing to be featured in an advertising campaign for The New York Times. I said yes since I was an avid reader of the newspaper. Everything went smoothly as they photographed me in various poses. But the one I liked most was of my hands, resting and totally at peace.
I grew up as a boy in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and liked to play baseball with improvised bats. One day I picked up a piece of wood with a nail on it and swung at the ball sending a nail through my middle finger. A friend of the family drove me to the hospital with the board sticking out the window. The scar remains as a sign of my bad habit of rushing through things without paying attention.
There are other signs of my life in the dexterity of my hands which came to the fore through four years of a summer job at a drive-in fast food place where I regularly was required to pick up four garbage containers and lug them to an incinerator in the back of the lot. My hands served me well and since then have never had to perform such physically exhausting labor.
One of the signs of my career as a writer is the callous formed on my third finger by decades of having a pen pressing on it as I wrote rough drafts of articles and reviews and took notes of movies in dark screening rooms. I embrace this mark as a sign of my perseverance and my love of providing resources for those on a spiritual journey. Or as Pierre Teilhard de Chardin wrote: "In our hands, the hands of all of us, the world and life – our world, our life – are placed like a host, ready to be charged with divine influence."
The final sign of my life in my hands is a permanently bent pinkie which is the result of a bad fall that was broken by my resourceful and courageous little finger. Now as I approach my seventieth birthday I look at my hands and see they are covered with brown spots. I thank God for these beauty marks which bring to mind the glory days of sunbathing and being completely at rest.