She sat silent in the corner. A black scarf covered the top of her head. Only a few words were exchanged. Her conversation came in the form of intricate designs on my sister’s hand. She traced the design on my sister’s skin with a henna cone and her free hand. There wasn’t a guidebook of henna templates or drawings that she copied. Instead, the fingers and her imagination created the detailed paving of lines on my sister’s palm.

I let this image linger in my mind, sensing a wave of hope inside of me. Much like the henna artist, we are all taking steps, making decisions, and yes, hoping that the actions we take now we lead to what we want our life to reflect. I thought about the designer and how she took careful steps not to smudge the henna on my sister’s hand. At certain points, a white tissue could wipe out the stray mark. At other times, it was too late to correct the imperfection because the henna had already taken color. Isn’t that what we do with our own lives? We try to remedy what we can. Sometimes it is too late. The blemish is permanent. And we readjust, trying to make the imperfection a part of our life.

We don’t often know, via individual decisions, how the arc of our life may turn out. Much like the composition of the henna on the hand. The details of the design didn’t take shape immediately. We couldn’t appreciate the intricacy until it was all completed. Ultimately, with the smudges and the sometimes too thick lines of henna, the result was a beautiful pattern of shapes, curls and yes, hope.

It reaffirmed something that I may have forgotten. Though underneath we may sometimes lose our footing and while the struggle sometimes feels constant, there is always that undercurrent of hope. It may be silent, but it is there, shaping our personal design.