Guest Post: Hands

“To Serve and Protect” sculpture after protests in Salt Lake City

by Sarah Carter

When I heard about the slaying of George Floyd, I thought about the community guilt we, especially we white US citizens, have in his death. During the protests in Salt Lake City, red paint was poured on the sculpture of bronze hands that stands in front of the Public Safety building there, originally titled “To Serve and Protect”.

I don’t know who the protest artist was who poured that paint, or what their thoughts or intentions were in that action. I don’t know if they are aware of the symbology of hands in LDS theology and culture–how much we use hands for, what they mean to us all. But as I experienced this new art (it’s been cleaned/destroyed now, so photographic evidence is all we have), I was flooded with emotional connections to how hands can be used to serve, to protect, to heal, to harm, and the visceral awareness that our hands are unclean, and only true repentance, including both change in our actions, the system of what actions we allow and condone AND our countenance, our thoughts, awareness and feelings, will bring us to the grace offered by our Savior, who was beaten and killed by soldiers and courts who did not recognize his life as worthy; our Savior, who cried out for a parent in his despair, and died as onlookers stared and did not help.

Hands

Held out
Offering help
Cupping
Gathering manna from heaven
Forgiveness
Miraculous nourishment

Hands that should help
Sometimes hurt

Clean hands and a pure heart

Hands reaching
For help
Welcoming in fellowship
Sealing deals
Sealing covenants

Hands raised in support
Solidarity
Thanksgiving
Unearned grace

Laying on of hands
Blessing
Healing
Conferring authority
To serve
Without power or influence
But love

We are His hands.
The blood on our hands
Is His too.

Sarah is the wife of one husband, a teacher at two colleges, a mother of three young adults and a creatrix of imagined worlds. She wants to learn more about Juneteenth this summer.

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4 Responses

  1. Ziff says:

    This is excellent, Sarah. I particularly love your last lines. This is such an excellent connection to Matthew 25:40 and also the idea often expressed, like you said, that we are supposed to be Jesus’s hands on earth.

  2. Dianna says:

    I love protest art. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about this brilliant piece.

  3. Heather says:

    Beautiful. Thank you.

  4. Em says:

    Are our hands clean of the blood and sins of this generation? I don’t think so. And I don’t think trying to Lady Macbeth our way out of it is going to work. Repentance is the only way to cleanse blood from our hands. Thank you for sharing the picture — I think it is more powerful with blood.

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