Art and LiteraturePoetry

Empty Hands

I want to hold my worth in my hands;

to trace my accomplishments

in gilded letters on spine and cover;

to smell them in ink and paper.


But my desire is a dream awakened,

and all I can trace are tears

of shame, that I have nothing

to hold out in offering but empty hands.


Empty hands—not clenched fists,

angry, or grasping at given gifts;

Empty hands, ready to hold another’s,

to serve, to open and receive.


To receive trust—a hand placed

in mine by a friend or a child;

to receive that broken bread,

spoken over, speaking over me: “You belong.”


To belong, to be welcomed,

is not something I can close my hand

around—my palm is empty

on this pilgrimage, ready to give.


I cannot hold my worth in my hand,

but I can hold His most precious Body;

hold the hand of one in His Body;

be a hand in His Body—empty. . .

Johanna Byrkett

Johanna Byrkett

Johanna (Jody) Byrkett enjoys hiking various types of terrain, foggy mornings and steaming mugs of tea, reading classic literature and theological essays, studying words and their origins, and practising the art of hospitality. (She also has the singularly annoying habit of spelling things 'Britishly'.)

Previous post

The Significance of Lions

Next post

Why I’m Not Reformed (But Admire Them Anyway)