You are Christ's Hands

by Teresa of Avila


Original Language Spanish

Christ has no body now on earth but yours,
     no hands but yours,
     no feet but yours,
Yours are the eyes through which to look out
     Christ's compassion to the world
Yours are the feet with which he is to go about
     doing good;
Yours are the hands with which he is to bless men now.

-- from The Essential Mystics: Selections from the World's Great Wisdom Traditions, Edited by Andrew Harvey

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

A few weeks ago we featured another poem by Teresa of Avila. With the Christmas season coming up, I thought this one might be a good follow-up. I haven't been able to confirm whether or not this beautiful poem was actually composed by Teresa of Avila. It is popularly attributed to her, but I have not found an authoritative source that clearly identifies her as the author.

Whether this was composed by Teresa of Avila herself or by an anonymous Christian poet, this is one of my favorite prayer-poems. It is a prayer of supreme spiritual maturity. It is not someone imploring Christ to come and fix everything in the external way imagined by so many fundamentalist sects; rather, it recognizes the presence of the Divine within each of us and our sacred responsibility to embody that compassion and service to the world. Each one of us is the vehicle through which Christ (or Ishwara or the Buddha) enacts blessings in the world. Our job is to let that sacred current flow through us unhindered.

Yours are the hands with which he is to bless men now...



Recommended Books: Teresa of Avila

Women in Praise of the Sacred: 43 Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women Poetry for the Spirit: Poems of Universal Wisdom and Beauty The Essential Mystics: Selections from the World's Great Wisdom Traditions For Lovers of God Everywhere: Poems of the Christian Mystics All Saints: Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time
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You are Christ's