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Hands of Healing: Wentworth-Douglass Hospital Nurses Take Part In The 'Blessing Of The Hands'

The hands of nurses are capable of some amazing things, so it was very fitting that those hands got special attention recently.

For at least the last 15 years, nurses at Wentworth-Douglass Hospital have taken part in a special ceremony called the “Blessing of the Hands.”

Blessing of the Hands ceremonies have become common during Nurses Week and Wentworth-Douglass held 16 of these ceremonies between May 10-12. Wentworth-Douglass chaplains, Julien Olivier and Karin Wetmore went around to multiple units of the hospital during different shifts to do the ceremony with nurses.

Olivier has done the ceremony every year during his 15 years at the hospital and said the blessing is important because human touch is such a crucial part of healthcare.

“Blessing of the hands with oils or water is a way to acknowledge that importance, while also honoring the spiritual aspects found in physical care,” Olivier said.

The nurses that participated in the blessing were grateful for the opportunity.

“I truly never took the opportunity to think about my hands as a tool of healing, this celebration gave me this meaningful opportunity,” one nurse said.

“I was unaware of the significance of the blessing of the hands. Julien’s peaceful presentation of this simple gesture created a moment of peace and reflection,” said another nurse.

“The unit was actually quite hectic when J. arrived for the blessing. Patience and actually having the opportunity to stop, be quiet and connect with my colleagues allowed me to actual feel this blessing in my hands and heart. Thank you to our chaplain for the compassionate care,” another nurse said.



Below is the reading and blessing that were given by the hospital chaplains:


The work of a nurse is sacred,

not just this week, but every week, throughout every hour of every shift.

The hands of a nurse are steady

as they administer medications, help with procedures, start an IV, and bring healing to the broken.

The heart of a nurse is courageous,

not just through a pandemic that has called you to put your own well-being

behind a veil of protective equipment

while you push through any feeling that resembles fear, but always.

The hands of a nurse are callused, cut, and worn down

from the constant hand washing, sanitizing, and wearing of gloves.

The eyes of a nurse see through eyes of compassion,

not wincing at the sight of wounds, but creatively finding the resources to bind them.

The hands of a nurse are sore

from charting, writing notes, typing long emails, and comforting families that cannot be present.

The soul of a nurse is fiercely gentle,

bringing a calm wisdom into a space terrified by mortality.

You stare into the face of death every day and offer a reassuring smile

or the presence of solemn strength that does not crumble.

The hands of a nurse are beautiful, strong, and gentle

as they bring in new life,

save those whose time has not yet come,

and hold the hands of those who are breathing their last.

We honor your sacrifices

of energy, time, heart and freedom as the world seems overwhelming.

We honor your willingness to offer your gifts and grace

in the most vulnerable, frightening, funny, and freeing moments of being human.

(Source: Hosparus Health, adapted) 


Blessing of the Hands

Blessed be these hands that touch life.

Blessed be these hands that feel pain.

Blessed be these hands that provide comfort to those in need.

Blessed be these hands that embrace with compassion.

Blessed be these hands that wipe away tears

Blessed be these hands that clinch with anger or withdraw in fear.

Blessed be these hands that draw blood and administer medicine.

Blessed be these hands that clean beds and dispose of wastes.

Blessed be these hands that grow stiff with age.

Blessed be these hands that comfort the dying and hold the dead.

Blessed be these hands that hold the promise of the future.

(Source: John Hopkins Hospital 1989, adapted)

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