Silent Language of Hands

Afghanistan, 2006.

Behold the hands
how they promise, conjure, appeal,

menace, pray,
refuse, beckon, interrogate, admire, confess,
instruct, command, 
mock and what not besides, with a variation and multiplication of
variation which makes the tongue envious

-Michel de Montaigne

Pakistan, 1984.
Vietnam, 2007.

Our hands often reveal what we really
think but do not say.
They can show a range of feelings and emotions from

confusion and frustration
to joy, understanding, love, and compassion. 

Afghanistan, 1990.

Among all species, our human hands are unique —
not only in what they can accomplish,
but also in how they communicate. Human hands can paint the Sistine Chapel, pluck a guitar,
maneuver surgical instruments, chisel a David,

forge steel, and write poetry.
They can grasp, scratch, poke, punch, feel, sense, evaluate,

hold and mold the world around us.

-Joe Navarro

USA, 1987.

When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.

-Henri Nouwen

Cuba, 2010.

Let us touch the dying, the poor, the
lonely and the unwanted
according to the graces we have received and
let us not be ashamed or slow to do the humble work.

-Mother Teresa

China, 1998.

Hands calm us, feed us, and scratch our backs.
They intimidate, bless, encourage, and stop us. 

They soothe and caress.
They draw our attention to the good and the bad, often

suggesting exuberance or fear.

-Charles Flowers introduction to Elliott Erwitt’s Handbook

Mali, 1986.
Kashmir, 1999.

Hands have saved lives and taken them just as easily.
They create the saviors of life as well as the

purveyors of death.
Creating and destroying with a single move
a finger can move mountains or search the

unknown heavens.
Hands live to caress and love.
Hands live to fight and die.
Forever living hands, forever exploring hands.

-Bruce Alan Humphrey

Afghanistan, 1992.

To receive everything, one must open
one’s hands and give.

-Taisen Deshimaru

Burma, 1995.

Your hand opens and closes, opens and closes.
Your deepest presence is in every small

contracting and expanding, the two as
beautifully balanced and coordinated as birds’ wings.

-Rumi (1207-1273)

Ireland, 1992.

Hold a true friend with both hands

-African Proverb

Paraguay, 1988.

To pray means to open your hands before God.

-Henri Nouwen

USA, 1986.
Afghanistan, 1980.
Russia, 2012.

The hands which beckon,
embrace, soothe, and comfort us
Bid us farewell.

Uganda, 2001.
Chad, 1985.

… For saints have hands that pilgrims’ hands do touch, And palm to palm is holy palmers’ kiss.
Romeo and Juliet, Act I, Scene 5

-William Shakespeare

Burma, 2017.
Honduras, 2004.
Benin, 2017.



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