The Sense of Touch (January 20, 2012)

…Opening To…

“A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.” (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)

…Listening In…

A woman was there who had been bleeding for twelve years. She had spent her entire livelihood on doctors, but no one could heal her. She came up behind him and touched the hem of his clothes, and at once her bleeding stopped.  “Who touched me?” Jesus asked. When everyone denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds are surrounding you and pressing in on you!” But Jesus said, “Someone touched me. I know that power has gone out from me.” When the woman saw that she couldn’t escape notice, she came trembling and fell before Jesus. In front of everyone, she explained why she had touched him and how she had been immediately healed. “Daughter, your faith has healed you,” Jesus said. “Go in peace.” (Luke 8:43-48; context)

…Filling Up…

We have reached the last of our five senses, and it’s Friday, so that worked out well! I don’t know about you but the sense of touch is by far the most important sense for the human experience. Think about an infant bonding with a mother in the hours after delivery or a couple slow dancing or friends high-fiving at a football game. God has built into our DNA the need to touch and be touched.

I remember in college when I sensed that I just wasn’t getting enough hugs. They say you need X number of hugs a day for emotional sanity (the number varies – I’d say between five and eight), and I was getting a grand total of zero. I remember mentioning this to a couple of friends, who had the same experience. So we made a point to hug each other whenever we saw one another. You can be surrounded by people all day, but if there is no physical contact, then loneliness can creep in.

So what’s so important about this sense of touch, especially considering our God is not someone we have ever had any tactile experience with? Touch, more than any other sense, helps us feel connected. Oftentimes, you can communicate more with a squeeze of a hand or a pat on the shoulder or a firm embrace than you can in words. Just think about the first time you attempted to hold your date’s hand or kiss your date good night. I bet your heart pounded. You could feel the impending connection, and it made you a little dizzy.

God may not touch us physically in this way, but just think about the expression: “That was so touching.” When we use this expression, we are never actually talking about physical contact. But the act of reaching out and touching someone is so powerful that we have transferred the emotional connotation of the touch into other realms of our experience. God does touch us; maybe not physically, as Jesus once did, but God touches every corner of our spirit and sets us on fire.

…Praying For…

Dear God, you have given me the sense of touch to experience more fully the connecting joy you have built into creation. Help me to reach out my hands in service, and make them to be your hands reaching out to this world that is in dire need of your embrace. In Jesus Christ’s name I pray. Amen.

…Sending Out…

I leave this moment with you, God, ready to see, hear, taste, touch, and smell your presence, that I may be more aware of your movement in my life.

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