May/June 2011 - Vol. 50

The Incredulity of Thomas, by Caravaggio,1602-03

Graven on the Palms of Your Hands

by Jeanne Kun

Long ago, my Lord and God,
your hands clung ’round Mary’s neck, 
tiny fingers twining her hair about them
while she hugged you to her breast.
Later Joseph held your boy-hand secure within his firm grasp 
as you walked the road together on your first pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
Deftly, too, your hands learned from his to handle lathe  
and plane rough wood beams to smoothness.

With sure hand (and a touch that blessed and healed) 
you tousled the curly heads of the children who flocked around you,
and opened the blind man’s eyes, giving sight again.
(I wonder, too, what that hand wrote in the dust, 
disquieting the elders who’d hoped to ensnare you
in the trap they’d laid for the adulteress.)

Raised in thanksgiving,
your hands
multiplied the loaves and fishes
and broke the bread 
that fed your disciples’ hunger with more than crushed wheat.

Then those same hands 
that washed soiled feet 
(and stained, sin-encrusted souls)
were wrenched and held fast,
forced to the crossbeam as the executioner plied open your fingers
and drove iron through your palms,
inscribing my name upon them:

Behold, I have graven you on the palms of my hands.

Tendons mangled and severed, 
nerves vibrating in agony,
muscles contorted in tight spasms—
those hands were made useless
except to hold you pinioned to the cross
as your body sagged, 
its weight straining and pressing raw against the nails.

Then gloriously risen from the grave,
you showed those same pierced hands to Thomas,
inviting him to probe the nail marks
and overcome all doubt and incredulity:

Do not be faithless but believing.

Your hands, once so wounded and so bloodied,
still bear the hard-won battle scars—
signs of victory and glory 
and a record of the price you paid for me.

And now you never cease 
to intercede before the throne of God,
those wounds indelibly written upon your flesh 
pleading there on my behalf.

Copyright © 2001-2007 by Jeanne Kun. Used with permission.

> See Thomas Meets the Risen Christ, by Jeanne Kun


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