We start out being held.  Securely nestled in our mother’s wombs, we are held.  Safe from harm, we are tucked away, invisible at first, but gradually becoming more evident.  As our mothers’ bellies expand, they start to hold us also with their hands.  They touch us as we move within the womb.  They rub the expansion of their abdomens.  They hold their bellies, supporting the ever-growing weight in anticipation of holding us in their arms.

And then, and then…they do hold us in their arms.  They swaddle us in blankets washed in gentle detergents then wrap their arms around us and hold us close to their hearts. Our fathers hold us, too.  With their large hands, they often look awkward as they gently, yet firmly, draw our tiny bodies close to examine us and whisper sweet messages of love.

Our parents hold us as we grow.  They hold us when they feed us.  They rock us to sleep.  They lift us out of danger.  They carry us because we cannot yet carry ourselves.

They hold our hands as we learn to walk, as we cross the street, when we are afraid, and when we need to be reigned in.

They hold the seat of the bicycle and tell us to “peddle, peddle, peddle” while they run beside us.

They teach us to hold on to their hands, the handlebars, and the steering wheel.

And all the time they are holding on, they are letting go.

They teach us how to stand on our own, how to walk without holding their hands, how to ride without training wheels.  They teach us to keep our eyes open, to look both ways, and proceed with caution.  Yet they also teach us to be brave, to take chances, and to trust our own judgment.

And if they are very wise, they teach us, as they are letting go, that we, and they, are always held.  We are held by Hands that we can’t see. We are carried through times when we can’t carry ourselves.  We are lifted out of harm’s way.  We are protected when we don’t look both ways.  We are guided to places where we have to be brave and take chances.  And all that while we are held.

Yet even if we taught by wise parents that we are held by these Hands, we think we can hold ourselves.  We think we are strong.  We stand up straight.  We set our jaws.  We believe that we can do anything.  We march forward, brandishing weapons, covering our vital organs, taking on battles that aren’t ours to fight.  We soldier through desolate times, thinking we are on our own, forgetting that we are held in the palm of great Hands.

And, we wear ourselves out.

Exhausted, we lie down and try to recover.  We sleep for a while, then wake to realize that we are resting in the palm of His Hand.

Even to your old age and gray hairs
    I am he, I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you;
    I will sustain you and I will rescue you.

Isaiah 46:4