St. Joseph’s Hand


In September 2012 I attended a “Grief to Grace” retreat to explore what being abused had done to me, and to hopefully learn some ways to heal, forgive, and to grow. 

We were a couple days into the retreat when I decided to go for a walk during one of the breaks. There was a statue of St. Joseph that I remembered from a previous stay at this facility and I was drawn to go and sit with him.  We were really working; it’s no walk in the park to open up and start digging into sore, tender areas of one’s heart, and I was tired and weary.  Why does life have to be so hard?

I sat down on a bench in front of the statue, (which is shown here), and did my best to relax and let go of what was troubling me.  As I sat there looking at the statue I began to reflect on his life, his struggles, his “Yes” to God.  I remembered that, as foster father to Jesus, St. Joseph has a special place as father and guardian in our lives too.  I suddenly noticed that St. Joseph wasn’t holding carpenter’s tools here, but a loaf of bread and a pitcher, or jug.  My eyes were drawn to the hand holding the loaf of bread and I noticed how big and how strong it was….and yet gentle.  There is nothing there of violence, or selfishness, or greed, in fact the whole ‘feeling’ I get from this statue is of tenderness.  I realized then that, except for an occasional hug, I do not remember ever being touched, or caressed by a man who only wanted to comfort me or to give of himself without wanting anything in return.  Never.

Tears streamed down my cheeks and muffled sobs racked my body as I became aware of the deeply hidden desire (need) I had for a real father in my life.  My Dad was an alcoholic who died when I was fourteen.  He was strict and old-fashioned; and while there may have been times when he was tender and gentle and loving, I don’t remember them.  My step-father is not any better in regard to being tender.  Most of the men I am familiar with (and therefore have been drawn to) are the ‘macho’ type.  Strong, rugged, individualistic, dare devils, etc., but not given to tenderness.  Probably because they didn’t receive any themselves.

So here I am aching inside with longing to be held and comforted by a mature, masculine person with no ulterior motives….and wondering if I will ever know this kind of love, when, in my mind’s eye, I see a hand reaching to touch my cheek.  As I receive the ever so slight impression of a caress on the side of my face, I get goose bumps all over and the tears and sobbing gain in intensity….but in joy now, because God has allowed me the grace of knowing that He knows the deepest desires of my heart, and that He cares.  I sense the hand slide beneath my chin, tilting my face upward.  Then a kiss on my forehead before I am pulled into a warm, strong embrace, my face resting peacefully against the solid chest of St. Joseph; my foster father and protector too.

In Christ's peace,