I carry my tension in my neck. Computers and iPads make it worse yet. To help with this, I started going to a massage therapist. Her strong fingers find knots and kinks in my neck and shoulders I don’t know I have. Her touch brings relief and my physical tension dissipates. But more than that, I realize I also I feel comforted, loved and cared for.
One day she told me she was leaving the practice so that she could devote her entire time to the care of cancer patients — patients who simply long for relief from their pain. She explained that these ones don’t get enough touch because others shy away from them not knowing what to do or how to help.
“Whenever I put my hands on someone’s body”, she said, “it is a sacred act, a healing act, a chance for me to bring relief and comfort to someone who is hurting.”
Today as I lay on the massage table (yes, I found a new therapist) receiving that same sacred touch, I thought of Jesus the rabbi, who broke all cultural and religious rules and touched the diseased, the blind, the deaf, the terrified. Jesus who brought comfort and healing through his touch.
Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy. (Matthew 8:3)
Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him. (Matthew 20:34)
Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue. He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means “Be opened!” ). At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly. (Mark 7:34-35)
While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” (Matthew 17:5-7)
And I wonder who can I touch today? And when I do, may I remember that I am touching God — “For this is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘After the Glorious One has sent me against the nations that have plundered you—for whoever touches you touches the apple of his eye.'” (Zechariah 2:8)
How might you be able to give a sacred touch to another today?
Lord, I know that touch has also been a devastating thing to many people and sometimes my attempt to help brings more hurt. Give me wisdom to know when and how to extend a sacred touch to a fellow traveler. Help me to point them to you, the true healer and comforter.