I was happy when my hands worked—until the pain settled.
My hands were not special. They were normal in size and shape, with four fingers and two thumbs. A white half-moon at the base of two fingers on my left provided a focal point when my mind wandered while my hands worked, to distract me from the pain.
The pain was a monster of sorts. It clawed at me for days, until I could no longer use my hands and could only rest them. It would take weeks for the pain to go away, but I could never bring myself to do anything but use them at the first sign of tingling.
I had worked in the Abbey prayer gardens for years. My parents dedicated me to the Lord’s service at exactly eight years of age, to provide for our family. The sum exchanged for my future years was necessary for their survival.
It was a strange feeling to be bought and paid for.
The Sisters treated me well, I had no complaints until my banishment to Blind Bitya’s isolated mountain cottage on my sixteenth birthday. Beebee, as I nicknamed her, became the mother who raised me with the common sense I lacked as I grieved the loss of the large prayer gardens.
The Reverend Mother came for her annual visit and my change to mountainside scenery was explained as a necessary precaution and not a punishment. My gifted hands were dangerously compelling to all they touched.
During these visits, the Reverend Mother requested I find another medium to set my hands to in the absence of gardening. She explained it as expanding my horizons to keep my God-given talents from neglect.
According to her testimony, all who visited the prayer gardens previously in my care—left convicted in one way or another.
I failed to see the connection she did.
My hands never stopped hurting from that sixteenth summer to this thirtieth year of existence. It was as my hands screamed for release from some invisible torture.
I eventually discovered the cure was prayer, something I loathed to accept. It was too painful and too personal to regularly expose my tortured heart to Him.
So I hated everything within the first years—except for Beebee.
The moor-like country swallowed everything, a wandering emptiness that filled everywhere. I hated it, but craved the silence. Hate could not reside with Beebee, so I lived in the barn.
I thought the emptiness couldn’t haunt me there, but it was always miserable outside, a necessary element for unpredictable temper and irritable natures—the side effect of pain combined with isolation.
Gardening was pointless. Nothing grew—so I turned my hands to clay.
The feel of fresh clay was bliss.
Sometimes it numbed the pain. I lived for days when the pain ebbed and my hands were steady. In the few hours where I could feel nothing, I worked until my fingers bled.
Then I hid the pieces of my breaking point inside the loft where only I could see them.
Proceeds from my creativity supported the Abbey, as the clay creations became popular for prompting the same convictions as my garden. The Reverend Mother collected my work with praises and blessings for another successful year. She warned me, the last time, to be careful in my creations.
I smiled and promised, hating her the moment she left.
In the barn, I threw things against the wall to hear them break. The sound was comforting while the effort of destroying my physical mistakes provided therapy.
When I’d finished my temper tantrum, my hands were shaking again.
I kept no secrets, so the words in my head were already thought and settled for Him to see. I waited for the pain—my punishment—to come, but it did not. Tears wrought their way down my face as I fell to my knees, unworthy of everything in such a moment.
His love. His grace.
I hated my hands.
But I loved Him.
So I cried while working the clay with hands that were again, no longer mine. The tears mixed with the clay—a beautiful result.
The ache afterward was horrible.
But with every piece I crafted, I learned to stop resisting Him. My temper was nothing compared to His love and my childish protests were settled in prayer.
I could not stop using my hands.
He never stopped using me.
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