Keeping in Touch
Saturday, May 2nd
W e aren’t likely to be with our grandchildren until this lockdown is eased off enough to safely meet again. Yes, we meet on Zoom and Facetime, but it’s not the same. There’s still a distance, so all the cyber hugs in the world will not really substitute for arms around each other. This has to be one of the worst things about this pandemic.
I’m almost glad we cannot meet our families through the window, as we, or they, stand on the front lawn or in the back yard. That seems like torture – to be so near, yet so far from all that comes naturally. For children, that must be so counter to the way they are. Unless, of course, you like to keep your distance.
Surely one of the most cruel aspects of not being able to touch, to hug, to kiss is the dreadful situation for so many today who cannot be with their loved ones in their final hours. That fills me up every time I see it happening. It’s just not right! As I write this we are holding family and friends in our thoughts as Mick, a friend’s father, is buried with only a handful of mourners present. He was a Liverpool supporter, so red is the order of the day.
Touch is so important as a sense. Like the other senses, we take it for granted until we start to lose it. In situations like a bereavement it does what words and looks cannot do. So, to lose it during Covid-19, albeit temporarily, is such a deprivation. It’s not just in bereavement though, it’s so hard if you live alone or are having to self-isolate on your own.
Touch was important to Jesus. He welcomed children into his arms. He touched the blind man’s eyes, anointing them with mud. He disregarded the normal distancing rules when near a leper and touched him as he was healed. He took the hand of a sick girl and helped her to get up off her deathbed. On that last occasion (Luke Chapter 8: 40 onwards), while Jesus was still on his way to Jairus’ house to see his sick daughter, a woman in the crowd reached out and touched his cloak as he walked past. That touch was also transforming for the woman.
Zoom and Skype may have transformed the way we conduct meetings to save physical travel in business circles for future generations, but it will never permanently replace the transforming and healing power of a hug and a kiss!
Some days you are diverted by a call
The soft computer chime that summons all
To show a face to faces that we meet
Mirages, empty mirrors on the wall.
Alas that all the friends we ever knew
Whose lives were fragrant and whose touch was true
Can only meet us on some little screen
Then zoom away with scarcely an adieu.
We share with them the little that we know
These galleries of ghosts set in a row
They flicker on the screen of life awhile
But some have left the meeting long ago.
We used to stroll together on the green
Who now divide the squares upon the screen,
The faces of our friends, so far apart
Tease us with tenderness that might have been
Some day we’ll break the bread, we’ll pour the wine
And meet and kiss and feast beneath the vine,
Till then we’ll sweeten solitude with verse
And yearn through pain, and watch each day decline.
Malcolm Guite (from his blog at malcolmguite.com
Mother, Father God,
We reach out to touch you in our time of sensory deprivation.
We reach out to all who miss the tender touch of a fellow human being today.
We reach out to all who are beset by the fear of approaching others, even their loved ones.
We reach out to all who touch others on our behalf in their final hours.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.
The end of a DofE Gold Expedition.