When a friend was about to undergo a challenging surgery, she posted images of her “fingers crossed” on her Instagram. She was transmitting her hope for luck and protection, and we thought, asking for others to as well. We responded by sending her an image of our version of “fingers crossed”: an ancient Buddha’s hand we had been given years ago. When the going gets tough for someone we know, we put a lighted votive next to it to hold our intention and light, and radiate its calming, hopeful energy.
We’ve come to realize that each of us has our own way of wishing/hoping/praying/sending energy during difficult times. Many of them involve hands.
Years ago, we happened on one spontaneously, in response to a distress call from a friend we got while working in a cluttered storage room. How could we help her navigate a painfully emotional situation as she traveled to another country? We suggested she draw a heart in the palm of her hand, telling her:
The heart is all the good things you need reminding of: hope and possibility and solutions that you can’t imagine now, and most of all, love, and all the people who love and care about you. The heart will be hidden in your hand, and when you need it, all you have to do is open your hand and look; it will remind you.
Somehow we had created a powerful image —and practice —that we’ve used many times ourself.
At the Three Rivers Petroglyph Site in New Mexico, there are a number of hand images incised in the rocks, including these at Monarch Cave on Cedar Mesa that are curiously similar to the one we spontaneously created.
There are hundreds of mudras (symbolic hand gestures) of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in Buddhism and various gods and goddesses and in Hinduism, each with a different meaning or power. Crossed fingers traces back to the early Christian Church, to invoke the power of the cross.
This graffiti handprint echoes those of many primitive cave paintings in a bold, utterly affirmative statement.
It seems to be what we humans do.