On this day of practicing the active, intentional verb reach, I recognized the artwork by Michelangelo on pages 70-71 of Dictionary for a Better World, and it took me straight back to a day many years ago when my parents visited the middle school where I was teaching at the time. We were walking through the office, where the hands depicted in The Creation of Adam hung over a desk.
“So,” my Dad asked me as he gestured toward the divine image, “Which hand is God’s, and which hand is Adam’s?”
I’d taken art history in college, but I’d never truly studied this painting, and in the absence of the full image, I wasn’t prepared for the trivia question Dad was asking, especially where others were taking notes of our interaction and waiting for my response.
“I don’t know,” I admitted.
“Look,” he said, “Do you see the hand that is more purposefully reaching, there on the right? That’s God’s hand.”
The painting came to life in that moment, and what I hadn’t seen before, I saw. In July 2019, I got to see it in person when I visited the Sistine Chapel and stared in awe at the ceiling. There are no words to describe the feeling of being there in that sacred space.
Living and connection begin when we take the initiative to reach out. It’s a choice we make. Just like Irene Latham, I am an introvert. Reaching out in a face to face world does not come naturally to me. I’d rather dwell in my quieter world of reading and writing, with a slight buffer zone of physical distance from others way back in the woods of the rural countryside in Georgia. Here in the digital realm, I am more likely to reach out with words and stories. Today, I’ll answer the call to action and practice reaching out in my daily interactions – – and I will also observe to see who may be reaching out to me for a response.
On Happiness Happens day, I’ll purposefully reach out and smile. I’ll make happiness happen.
*During the months of August and September on days when I’m not participating in the Open Write at www.ethicalela.com, I will be writing in response to the pages of Dictionary for a Better World: Poems, Quotes, and Anecdotes from A to Z by Irene Latham and Charles Waters, illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini. The poems, poetic forms, narratives, quotes, and calls to action to make one small difference might be just the medicine my world – or the whole world – needs. I’ll be inviting insights in the form of an immersion into a 10-minute-a-day book study (just long enough to read the page, reflect, and connect). If you don’t have a copy of the book, you can order one here on Amazon. I invite you to join me in making August and September a time of deep personal book friendship. A few teachers will be following the blog and engaging in classroom readings and responses to the text. So come along! Let’s turn the pages into intentionally crafting beautiful change together.