November 29 – To Touch

Thursday, November 29, 2012

November 29 – To Touch

In the New Testament we see Jesus reaching out to touch people time and again in order to heal them.

A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”  Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy.” (Matthew 8:2-3)

When Jesus came into Peter’s house, he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him. (Matthew 8:15)

Two blind men followed him, calling out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him and he asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?”   “Yes, Lord,” they replied.” Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you’; and their sight was restored. (Matthew 8:27-29)

These are just a few of the instances where healing came through Jesus’ touch.  When I did a web search on the power of touch, one of the first references came from WebMD.  A touch, even from a stranger, will help to lower anxiety when faced with stressful news.  It helps babies grow and assists children as they attempt to concentrate in school, it is also known to reduce chronic illness and disease.

Research as well as anecdotal evidence proves that touch has the power to relieve stress and thus to heal, it has the power to create bonds between people, to help them connect in amazing ways; yet we still find it difficult to reach beyond ourselves in order to touch someone.  Children in all sorts of homes, no matter the level of wealth, live without affectionate touch.

My mother was one of those children.  The only person who ever touched her as an infant was a nurse hired to care for her.  It took her a long time as an adult to be comfortable with that type of love.  My father, on the other hand, was very affectionate and spent those years teaching Mom and assuring her that it was OK to be affectionate with her children.  There are pictures of her holding me on her lap, but if you look closely enough, you see that it isn't a snuggle moment, it is a professional attitude adopted for the photographer.

I didn't know that about her, though, because I was my father’s daughter.  I remember my mother as being affectionate, but my sister doesn't  It’s because I was the one who moved in to Mom for the hugs and snuggles.  I was constantly hugging her or holding on to her arm. I would curl up beside her on the sofa or crawl into her lap when she was in the recliner. When she was dying in the hospital, I crawled into the bed beside her so we could just hold on.  She never refused my affection; she just didn't know how to initiate it.

I am still that way. I surprise waitstaff in restaurants when I touch their forearm as I’m telling them how much I appreciate their service.  Their smiles grow enormously because of a connection that was made.  That’s all it takes … a touch.