At the end of our church service we are charged to ‘go in peace to love and serve the Lord.’ One minister adds the Irish Blessing:
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
Until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
The last line holds special significance for me. There have been times when I have been very aware of being held in God’s mighty and healing hand. This image of God occurs often in the Bible.
Job says in verse 12.19 ‘In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.’
Daniel refers to ‘The God who holds in his hand your life and all your ways’.
Proverbs 30.4 tells us that ‘God holds us in the palm of his hand’.
It is a comforting picture.
I was thinking about this image recently when I had to rescue a little creature from our large ginger cat. The cat is an inside cat and likes to spend most of his time near one or other of his human staff, supervising whatever work they are doing. One favourite spot is on my desk, having a snooze between the screen and the keyboard.
But sometimes he goes out hunting and brings back a mouse or a bird. Once he manoeuvred a large wild rabbit through the cat flap!
The creatures are usually alive, albeit freaked out and terrified. Last time it was a small house mouse from the neighbours’ place. The little beastie escaped from the jaws of death and fled behind a curtain. I managed to catch it with an ice-cream bucket and a piece of cardboard and when I peeped inside the bucket I saw the tiny mouse cowering in the corner.
I lifted it by the tail and placed it on my hand, gently closing my fingers and thumb around the tiny body. At first it squirmed to get free and I could feel its heart beating wildly. It was in a panic. I don’t speak ‘mouse’ but I murmured soothing noises and just softly held the little body. Gradually the struggle eased, the heart rate slowed to a steadier beat and the mouse relaxed and settled in the safety of my hand.
After a few minutes I carefully opened my hand and examined the mouse to ensure there were no wounds from the cat’s sharp teeth – it was quite unharmed, just traumatised. Eventually I took it outside to release it back to its friends and it scampered away under the fence.
The words of the Irish Blessing came to mind: ‘in the palm of his hand.’
When we are panicked and anxious, particularly in this continuing uneasy time of stress and COVID and global political uncertainty, we can be assured that we are safe and secure in God’s hands. We can rest and relax with confidence.
As the Psalmist says:
‘My times are in your hands, deliver me from the hands of my enemies, from those who pursue me.’
Sheelagh Wegman is a freelance writer and editor. She is in the community of St David’s Cathedral in Hobart and lives in the foothills of kunanyi/Mt Wellington.
Sheelagh Wegman’s previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/sheelagh-wegman.html