Hands: An Imaginative Meditation

Click play to listen to a shorter version of this meditation.

Alternately, you can download the mp3 of this meditation here.


In this style of meditation, which comes to us from St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises, you are meant to create a space for encountering God through your imagination.

Find a quiet space to pray. Read each line slowly and pause to consider the questions, your responses, and your feelings. It may even be helpful to close your eyes between each section to better allow for imaginative freedom. If your imagination leads away from the meditation, follow it; God speaks to you.
After taking some time to quiet your busy mind, begin by imagining Jesus’ hands.
Imagine the palms. The knuckles. The finger tips. The finger nails.
What color are they? Are they rough? Smooth? Sun-baked? Well-groomed? Dirty?
Inspect every detail of Jesus’ hands.

Now, take Jesus’ hands in yours.
What do they feel like? Are they warm? Cold? Soft? Tough?
How do your hands feel in Jesus’? Uncomfortable? Relaxed? Peaceful?
Imagine Jesus gripping your hand like a good friend or a close loved one would.
How does it feel to touch God through your hands?

Imagine Jesus touching your face. Imagine his skin touching your cheek.
What is it like to engage Jesus in such an intimate way? What feelings does it give rise to in you?
As he touches your face, your eyes meet his.
What color are they? Can you see your reflection there? Do you feel their intensity?
Perhaps it is like love flowing out from this window into God’s soul.

Now imagine shrinking. Imagine shrinking so small you can fit in Jesus’ hands.
He picks you up and cradles you in his hands.
What does it feel like to lie there in the wrinkles of his palms?
Do you feel safe? Loved? Warm?

open handsImagine Jesus cupping you in his hands and whispering to you.
He quietly says, “I love you. This is where you belong. I love you. All of you.”
He repeats this over and over and over.
How does it make you feel?
Perhaps it is a message you are intimately familiar with.
Perhaps you haven’t heard it in a while.
Perhaps you have never heard it in your life.
What feelings does it stir up? Gratitude? Peace? Communion?
Maybe discomfort? Or even doubt?
Is there a physical response you are having to this encounter? Warmth? Healing?
What message do you think Jesus is trying to give to you?
What is God saying to you as you are held in the hands of Jesus?

Jesus sets you down and you begin to grow back to your usual size.
As you stand next to Jesus, examine your own hands.
How are they similar to Jesus’? How are they different?
Consider how you may have figuratively held someone else in your hands recently, someone you supported in a time of need. It could have been a loved one, someone you barely know, or even a whole group of people.
How did it feel to hold that person in your hands? What emotions did you feel?
Is there any way that the experience may have led you closer to God?
How do you see God’s hands as your own hands?

Now consider the future.
How do you hope for your hands to act as God’s hands?
How can you better serve and hold others with your hands?
How can you use your hands to fight for justice in your community and in our world?
How can you help others to experience God’s radically unconditional love?
How might your hands help others to peer into the eyes of God?

Imagine telling Jesus, who is still sitting right beside you, about these things. What does he say? What does he think? How can he help? Take time to really unpack your thoughts and explore your dreams and struggles with Jesus.

As you finish your conversation, as long as it may take, you squeeze Jesus’ hand for one last time. As you separate for now, you slowly find yourself drifting back out of your imagination into the material world.

Now, take some time (immediately or otherwise) to reflect on what happened during the meditation. What were some of the feelings that came up? What part(s) stuck out to you? How might God be trying to communicate with you through your emotions, thoughts, and affective movements?

After a few days, come back to this meditation. Consider again what God may have been trying to communicate with you. Consider how God is trying to interact with you through your own imagination.

Related posts:

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/godinallthings/Hands_An_Imaginative_Meditation.mp3]

Categories: Prayer

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5 replies

  1. What a consoling exercise. I will definitely use this with my middle school religion classes. My students love to meditate and so I often use visualizations with them.

  2. I felt a relaxing of muscles in my face, neck, shoulders and back, felt the tension in my shoulders slip away and felt so much more peace. I felt like I was forgiven.

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