Hand Washing Blessings

May 1, 2020

Mickey Reed provides today’s inspiring reflection. She is a trained facilitator of Joyce Rupp’s Boundless Compassion program and will be presenting a Boundless Compassion retreat at our Center this fall. You can click here to read more about it and to learn about Mickey too. washing hands, song, blog

Hand Washing Blessings

Scrolling through my Facebook feed, I was struck by both the beautiful harmony and the bittersweet humor of four Episcopalian acolytes singing the traditional Anglican doxology as they timed their carefully choreographed handwashing ritual. You can see it here.

“Praise God from whom all blessings flow, Praise Him all creatures here below. Praise him above ye heav’nly hosts, Praise Father Son and Holy Ghost.”

I learned in my training as an Occupational Therapist to sing happy birthday while washing my hands to ensure the requisite 20 second scrub down. After sharing this doxology with a few friends via my own Facebook feed though, I found myself singing God’s praises as I washed my own hands numerous times a day. It has crept into my daily routine and has become a sacrament of sorts; an opportunity for God’s grace to be more visible in my daily sequestered life.

As I see it, being brought into God’s grace involves coming to a place where we recognize and accept our dependence on God. The way to grace for me involves sacrifice, gratitude, surrender, and compassion and I find God calling me to each of these actions through the experience of this pandemic.

In the past two weeks, I have found myself needing to make many sacrifices. Whether it’s the simple inconveniences of wearing an uncomfortable mask, changing the regular timing and route of my walk or postponing the long-planned road trip and missing the once in a lifetime opportunity to celebrate a dear friend 100th birthday. I have given up many activities, plans and ways of doing things in order to do my part in stopping the virus.

It’s these very acts of giving up the simplest of pleasures that stir gratitude in my heart. Things, people, and events I may have taken for granted hold new meaning for me now and in my longing for their return, I am filled with gratitude for that which is now lost and may or may not be returned to me. In the early days of quarantine, I watched myself trying to control little things in my life: rigidly structuring my day to the point of resenting even pleasant interruptions, ordering papers and reorganizing the silverware drawer (twice!) and even telling others what they should do! When I stepped back, it was clear this great unknowing had made me scramble to find something I could control. Once I moved past the frustration and could view my behavior from outside of myself, I came to realize how little I can control now — or ever. In a deep sense, surrender is my only option. And finally, realizing that the shared vulnerability of everyone connects me and stirs up great compassion for myself and everyone on this journey through uncharted waters.

So, as you wash your hands, whether you choose to sing this doxology aloud or not, I invite you to use this handwashing time as an opportunity to reflect on your experiences of sacrifice, gratitude, surrender and compassion. It can lead us to God’s grace, the ultimate foundation for all we have, all we do and all that we are.