Saturday, February 15, 2020

The Power of Touch

          This week's blog is an extension of last week's theme on the weakness in my extremitities.  I had said 'the loss is greater than one could imagine' so I want to expound on what that means.  There is so much that our hands and arms allow us to do that we take for granted.  It's no secret that a pat on the back, a warm embrace or a touch on your hand can make you feel special but what if you can only accept those kinds of love and not give them anymore.  It's an awkward, uncomfortable feeling of what you might call sensory deprivation.
         It is true that it's better to give than receive, but sometimes you just have to be on the receiving end and give in other ways.  I've never been a touchy-feely kind of person but in some ways I regret that now.  I no longer have the ability to reach out and give someone I love a hug.  The best I can do is to lean into their embrace of me.  One person recognized that and said, "I love that you lean into my hug."  Another loss is the ability to reach out and shake someone's hand.  It is awkward on both sides, I hate that I can't and the other person feels bad that they assumed everyone could shake hands and put me in that position.  It's okay and not a crime.  People either get cowardly and avoid me from then on or they switch to a friendly tap on the shoulder or a fist bump my hand.  The latter is preferred.  One last touch I miss is reaching out to pet and love on my animalss by my own power.  My dog rides in my lap in the van and that touch of closeness is priceless.  When I ask, my caregivers will help me pet my furbabies with my hand.
         In a world where so much of our interaction is virtual — Facebook, e-mails, texts — physical contact is more precious than ever.   "Touch is a much more sophisticated system than we ever realized," says Matthew J. Hertenstein, Ph.D."  Touch can boost your immune system and other studies have shown that touch helps asthma, eases migraines, and leads to a more restful night's sleep.  "Scientists are discovering that you don't have to touch another person to receive a sensory lift. Next time you're feeling low, cradle a steaming mug of coffee or tea in your hands." [Good Housekeeping] 
        Even back in biblical times, touch had significant meaning and power.  From the garden in Genesis 3:2-3 "The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”  At Mount Sinai in Exodus 19:12 "Put limits for the people around the mountain and tell them, ‘Be careful that you do not approach the mountain or touch the foot of it. Whoever touches the mountain is to be put to death."   In Matthew 8:2-3 " 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."  In Luke 24:38-39, Jesus used the power of touch to prove himself real by  "He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?  Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”
         So you can see through the many examples I've mentioned in this blog, that the power of touch has great significance.  I encourage you and myself to go out and touch your loved ones, others lives and everything that has breath with love.