Monday, July 11, 2011

A Simple Touch

Yesterday in church I was reminded of something that happened a while back. We were at church and during the Lord's Prayer we hold hands. At the end of the prayer I always give a little extra squeeze to the people I've been holding hands with. Sometimes I know these people. Sometimes I don't. On this particular Sunday I was holding Scott's hand on one side and an older gentleman on the other side. At the end of the prayer, the older man leaned close to me and said that it was nice to be back in church. It was nice to have a little bit of human contact again. He said thank you to me. I thanked him in return. I don't know this man. I don't know his name. I'm not sure of his story. Where had he been? Had he been ill? Was he a snowbird and had spent his winter in Florida? I don't know. I do know that he had a need for human contact. A simple touch.

I come from a touchy family. Lots of hugs and kisses for everyone. We joke that we have the longest goodbyes ever in my family. Some may be uncomfortable in these situations. I know folks who are not comfortable with this kind of greeting or way of saying goodbye. This is ok. But after recalling the story I told about holding hands in church, I really got to thinking about the power of the human touch. I remembered studies that my class talked about in college. There was this study done relating to how much babies were and weren't touched and held in the first year of life. This study was conducted by testing orphans raised in third world countries. The people that were operating the orphanages were overwhelmed and unable to do much more than meet the basic needs of these babies. To hold them and to cuddle was out of the question. These babies had to be bathed and clothed and fed. Everything was done quickly and efficiently to the best of their abilities. There was no extra time for loving and cooing and cuddling. When a fortunate baby was adopted, they often didn't know how to react to sweet and loving attention. The newly adopted baby had to be taught how to accept love and touch. This study broke my heart then and does to this day.

I think we underestimate the power of touch. The small touch of receiving change from a store clerk. Shaking hands with a friend. Holding hands in church. The reassuring touch of a nurse or doctor. Even if only for a few seconds. This is the stuff we live for. It's simple. It's free and it's yours to give. A simple touch from you could mean the world to someone else.

©2011 Ann M. De Broux

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