“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.” – Henri Nouwen
When Jesus came down from the mountain, large crowds followed Him. And a leper came to Him and bowed down before Him, and said, “Lord, if you are willing, You can make me clean.” Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. – Matthew 8:1-3
Catharsis: “a purification or purgation that brings about spiritual renewal or release from tension” – Merriam-Webster Dictionary
There is nothing like human touch. It has the power to heal and the power to injure. It has the power to console and the power to reject. It has the power to love and the power to hate. There were times when Jesus healed through touch and a time when He punished merchants in the temple with His hands. There is a connection through touch that can’t be had anywhere else. Shaking hands, stroking backs, embracing. They all say something and mean something that can’t be carried over a phone wire or internet stream. I recently listened to a TED Talk by a doctor who advocated that physicians ought to use their hands more in their healing practices. He recalled treating AIDS patients in the 80s. He would often see patients day after day, knowing that the end was near and that there was nothing he could do but simply be there. So he touched them. He would thump there torsos listening to the percussion. He would check there vitals and feel their abdomens. He would generally examine them. Not because he was trying to find something new or thought it might heal them somehow, but because it’s what he could do. It was the only thing he could do. It may not have been medically necessary or even effective, but it was healing nonetheless. He said it was cathartic for him if for no one else. And for his patients, it meant he cared. That’s what touch means. It means caring. We don’t touch people we don’t care about. In fact, touching a stranger for no reason would be unusual and strange. But so too, it’s strange to avoid touching when it’s appropriate. The absence of a hug from a spouse coming home from work. The rejected handshake. The high five left hanging. They all speak of rejection and lack of care. The hug, the kiss, the warm clasping of hands, the exuberant high five. They speak of caring in ways that can’t be said alone. They speak the words of our heart and souls, when our mouths speak from our minds. We all know words can be conjured and smiles can be faked. But a hug, a caring touch, they tell of the heart. What’s more, they can heal the heart when words alone won’t do the job. They can lift the spirit when words aren’t up to the task. And they have the power to change the words on our minds. Hug the people you love. Shake someone’s hand when you meet them. Kiss your spouse. It makes a difference. Ask my neighbor who just lost his wife.
Daily Journaling Questions:
- How did I help someone in kindness today?
- What did I learn today?
- What am I thankful for?
- Who did I love today?
- What am I dreaming of?
- What about today do I want to remember forever?
- What are my goals for tomorrow?
Thanks for reading,