The Handprint Ritual

I live near the shore of Lake Michigan and daily meditation walks are part of my Way of Life and Death. I hope this ritual may be of use to you – noting that it’s an embodied practice, not just a thought experiment.

Most mornings and evenings I go down to the shore, form my right hand into the memento mori ergo carpe diem mudra and press an impression into the wet sand left by the retreating tide. Then, I wait until a surging, light wave washes most of the handprint away, leaving only a slight trace remaining. The next surging waves vanish the handprint completely. Sometimes it takes longer than others between waves, but each time, my handprint is washed away as if it had never been there. Next I raise my hand to the sky, the mudra transforming into a salute to eternal natural forces infinitely larger than myself.

The handprint represents my life – all my identity, all my striving, all my ambition, all my love and hope, my intellect, creativity and playfulness. Everything that makes me.

I know that death is the end. The waves represent that inevitability.

The handprint was there, and then it is gone. One day, maybe tomorrow, I will die.

But then I look up and see the vast lake and the much vaster sky. I look around and see trees and grass and life. The handprint was there for a moment, in all its individuality, before it returned to the eternal cycle of nature. Its memory remains.

1 thought on “The Handprint Ritual

  1. !!!
    The more I read/learn anout rituals, momento mori, end-of-life doula work, memorials, etc. the more I realize how deeply passionate I am about it all.
    Thank you for opening this up for me!

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