Touch

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In the beginning, Genesis testifies that God created by the power of the spoken word, but also the power of touch.  The Lord took the dust of the earth, and molded Adam like a potter working clay.  The power of touch is often overlooked.  We speak about it upon occasion, but do we truly realize what our touch can do?  Has done?

(Image courtesy of mnn.com)

(Image courtesy of mnn.com)

There is great power in the touch, especially in our hands.  The blessing of…

The hand that holds another when devastating news is delivered, the hands clasping another set while the words of Holy Matrimony are sealed in covenant, the hands that catch a newborn as it is ushered into this world, the parent’s embrace of their distraught child to bring comfort and assurance, the Samaritan’s hands gripping to prevent further loss of blood, the laying of hands during communal prayer, the hands vested with Apostolic authority resting upon the head to bless in God’s name, the hand that reaches out to save the drowning, the finger that traces the vein to provide life-sustaining medicine by IV, the reassuring pat on the back, the edifying squeeze of the shoulder, the hand of the one who serves holding the bread transformed during Holy Communion that grazes the hand of the one who receives, the handshake that welcomes, the high-five that celebrates triumph, and the hand that remains even after the last breath is drawn as a connection deeper than flesh.

Yet how often do we instead use the power of touch to cause suffering?  The pain of…

The hand balled into a fist to strike, the flattened hand that slaps, the finger that jabs as a physical impact with words that demean, the hands that shoves away, the hand that held the arm still while numbers were tattooed against the recipient’s will, hands whose touch is extended through the weapons they hold and the violence they enact, hands latching shackles on a slave, the indifferent hands of those who neglect their children, the hands of perversion upon the unwilling, the backhand meant to bring control and domination, the foot that kicks when someone is already down, the shove of the shoulder to intimidate, the hand quickly withdrawn in revulsion, and the finger that pushes a button to launch a nuclear weapon.

Today we will have multiple opportunities to touch another, to impact their day, and to convey the blessing of God who got up close and personal with us from the very beginning.  We can be conduits of that love in whether or not we touch, much less how we touch.  Perhaps the choice this day will be to refrain from enacting the touch that causes pain, that enacts evil and brings about suffering long after the physical contact ends.   When Jesus walked the earth, people brought their little children to him, so that he would lay hands on them (Matthew 19:13a), and today we can lay our hands on other children of God and pray God’s blessing upon them.  Your touch, your choice.

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