Work with Your Hands


by John C. Westervelt


... make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands ...

Thessalonians 4:11


     After reading Paul’s admonition to the Thessalonians, I studied my hands for a few moments. For each finger, I could see three sections, each stiffened with a bone, and a fourth bone below my palm. I knew that all movement of body parts is by a muscle pulling, often with the help of a tendon. I clinched my fingers into a fist and was amazed that a finger could be pulled into such a tight circle.

     Next, I recalled how my hands have served me well. At my neighborhood school in the 1930s, the older six-year-olds started first grade in September. My younger friends and I began in January. A kind teacher taught me how to hold a pencil so I could write numbers and letters.

     Seventy-five years later, my pencil is crafting letters into words, words into sentences, and sentences into stories. My once small hands now have long fingers. After a lifetime, veins stand out on skin beaten by use and the weather.

     As boys, in the summertime during the Great Depression, my brother and I walked two blocks to Kamp’s Grocery store in Oklahoma City. We took oranges out of orange crates and put them in baskets for display in the store. For our help, the produce manager gave us the orange crates. We carried the wooden boxes home, retrieved the hammer from dad’s blue, wooden toolbox, and took the crate apart. After accumulating lumber from half a dozen orange crates, we built a playhouse that held several boys.

     The orange crate was made of 3/4 inch thick boards that were 13 inches by 11 inches, with one on each end and one in the middle of the box. Nailed into the three 3/4 inch boards were two five inch wide slats on each of three sides. The top, made of thin slates, had been removed and thrown away to retrieve the oranges.

     As a widower in my 60s and 70s, I used my hands to craft stained glass windows for every member of my family. These folks would come to Tulsa with a piece of wallpaper and tile or other color swatch. Together we designed a pattern and then selected an array of colors of glass at the stained glass store.

     I cut and ground glass pieces to fit the pattern between strips of H-shaped lead. With the glass in place, the lead junctions were fastened together with melted solder.

     Now in my beginning eighties, these old hands can no longer cut and grind stained glass. Not to be discouraged, even old hands are useful. I can hold the hand of a child.


Return to Table of Contents