It looks like the missing hand of a giant. A giant who knelt down one day to pick up an apple then somehow ended up losing a part of itself.
I came across this hand when I was the only person walking through an orchard in Cornwall on the grounds of the nearby National Trust estate called Cotehele. It struck me how, inadvertently, it seems to have become a poignant window on our present world…
This hand is taller than I am – and far wider. A hand I was immediately drawn to touch. As I felt the cold contours of those rough stone fingers beneath my warm hand, it suddenly dawned on me it was the first hand I’d actually touched – in almost a year. Even hugs I’ve had during this time have not involved the holding of a hand.
I wonder if the artist who made this extraordinary sculpture could possibly have foreseen how much the touch of a hand would take on such heightened significance in this pandemic. All those long lost handshakes. High fives. Close caresses. The gentle touch or simple holding of a hand to reassure someone they’ll be okay. That they’re safe – and loved. Or, harder still, those hands that reach out to say goodbye.
All those hands we so routinely held before covid have had to be on hold ever since. Like the giant, we too have ended up losing that part of ourselves. That part that grows and thrives on the beautiful seed that is human touch.
It is such welcome news here in England, then, that the headlines this weekend are about plans by the government to make sure people can hold hands again – as soon as possible. Especially those who have been so isolated or unable to visit elderly loved ones in Care Homes across the country. They are to finally have the chance to hold hands again soon.
As I stood rooted to the spot in that place called “Mother Orchard”, I realised the main way I have personally dealt without the regular touch of a human hand is by trying to open my heart instead. To let it be touched by the world of beauty that grows around me.
I have seen and felt in this past year how the immense kindness and love of others has never failed to feed me – and, like that giant’s apple, touched me to my very core. For which I’m always grateful.
As a touchy feely kind of person I still can’t wait, though, to hold real hands – and, in time, to high five, fist bump, hug and squeeze every single person I meet! Yes. I think the giant’s hand may have got off lightly ?
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