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Love is in the Hand

Apr 21, 2020

There’s a Malawian proverb - "Love is in the hand" that means if you shake someone’s hand you are showing them love and respect. When you walk up to a group of people, you take time to shake every person’s hand individually, showing respect and honor to each one you meet.

Even before any cases of COVID-19 were recorded for Malawi, the President declared a national emergency and began putting restrictions in place, including instructions to stop the traditional greeting of shaking hands.

Instead of shaking hands, Namikango staff has resurrected an old custom of putting one’s hands together infront and slightly bowing. This is our “new” practice of greeting and it is being used throughout Malawi. This indeed shows respect when greeting. It is an interesting time for a culture when the meaning of shaking hands has been temporarily suspended. For now,“Love is in the hand” means refraining from potentially sharing unwanted germs by keeping one's hand pulled back.

It means taking extra time to wash with soap and water more often than usual. In this way, we are caring for the hands that will be getting on a mini-bus, moving around, and taking care of the basic necessities of life, and not spreading deadly germs.

While we are all concerned with the health and wellness of loved ones and ourselves, we now also carry the weight of concern for society's most vulnerable - those who couldcontract the virus unknowingly. Rather than letting fear be the driving factor behind all of our precautions, let us keep this proverb in mind and let love be our motivation.

With every measure we take in these pandemic times, let us bless with love those we may cross paths with, whether physically or virtually. Love for our neighbors, love for our community, and love for God who holds us together in Christ.

by Justine Hayes