"But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,’ declares the LORD"
~ Jeremiah 30:17
The hardest part for me with all the social distancing and pandemic restrictions is my ability to feel really "present," with others, especially when it comes to holding the hands of my patients.
Years ago when I was serving my first church, I remember visiting a member of our congregation in the nursing home. She had suffered a series of falls and needed encouragement. As we sat and talked, I asked her about "how she was feeling," when she was falling or about to fall. She looked at me directly in the eyes and said, "I fall because then I know someone will pick me up. It's the only time that someone holds me."
I just remember the silence in the room after hearing these words, and then suddenly realizing just how lonely she actually was. She reflected on how few people actually, "touched," her, and that she missed being "hugged." Her pain was real, and I just thought of the lengths she had gone to in order to receive attention and the missing touch that she needed. We hugged and both cried together. I learned such an important lesson that day. Upon returning to the church I remember calling a few close friends of the woman and we organized a calendar where we would take turns going to the facility and making sure that she was "hugged," and supported. She didn't fall again.
Touch is the wordless word that speaks to us. I remember years ago as a child sitting in church and watching my dad direct the choir. In the row behind me sat three older women who would often take turns touching the curls on my head, and patting my back. I don't remember their faces, but I remember their touch, and how I somehow knew that they cared deeply for me.
So many of these moments give more life to us than words. A friend's hand holding ours, someone wipes the tear from our eyes, the soft kiss on our forehead. All these moments are sacred. In many ways they reassure, restore, reconcile, offer forgiveness and most of all, are often healing.
I think of the woman who struggled to get to Jesus to be healed, touching his garment, and suddenly Jesus notes the "power" that had "left him." She is healed by a simple touch of a garment. Everyone who touched Jesus and everyone whom Jesus touched were healed.
When we are touched by someone, who doesn't need a response, then I begin to understand what the incarnate love of God is.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2020
Rev. G. Todd Williams is the author of the book, "Remember Me When..." and is a former hospice chaplain and pastor.