Mental Health Ministries

Cupped Hands

Cupped HandsThe stores are full of colorful and functional items for “back to school.” I was a Kindergarten teacher before going to seminary. I remember how difficult it was for parents to leave their children at the door on that first day of school. Often both the child and the parent were crying. I had to shut the door and keep things moving quickly to distract the children and involve them in fun activities.

My grandson starts Kindergarten this fall. I know my daughter will be outside the door of his room with a mixture of emotions. Other parents will become “empty nesters.” Starting at birth we live in that creative tension of holding on and letting go. That tension of is even more difficult when our child has a physical or mental health issue.

Jean Vanier is the founder of the L’Arche communities, places where mentally handicapped persons live together. He uses a wonderful image to illustrate this delicate balancing act of releasing and holding. He uses the image of cupping the hands lightly.

Vanier says, “Suppose I have a wounded bird in my hands. What would happen if I closed my hands completely?” The response, of course, is that the bird would be crushed and die.

“Well, then, what would happen if I opened my hand completely?” The bird will try to fly away, but it will fall and die.

Vanier says, “The right place is like my cupped hand, neither totally open nor totally closed. It is the space where growth can take place.”

May we learn to open our hands and entrust our loved ones to the cupped hands of God.