Each month a different member of the Trinity congregation prepares a few words which we hope that you will find interesting and thought-provoking.
As I write this there is rejoicing across the land as Care Homes are allowing a chosen person to meet directly with residents and are allowed to touch their loved ones. So many elderly people have in interviews, along with their loved ones, complained bitterly of months in which no touching was allowed. Covid may, in fact, have led to wider restrictions on such things as shaking hands, which may become permanent, replaced by elbow bumping!! (Secretly, I hope for an end to hugging!!!)
Whilst, there are those who have longed for touches, others dread them! There are the unwanted touches which, alas, so many women, of all ages, suffer from, often from men in positions of power; touching that can sometimes lead to terrible experiences even to murder on our streets. Also, during lockdown there has been a frightening increase in domestic violence, in which the touch can produce fear and trembling, rather than soothing and comfort.
So we can see that the simple action of touching is a very complex issue, and we seem to have created a society in which we fear offering the touch of comfort to a fallen child, even by a teacher, who may feel reluctant to offer comfort to a crying child for fear their actions may be misconstrued. This is an unforeseen product of well-meaning safeguarding legislation.
How sad that such a basic human reaction has to be checked! Thankfully, Jesus was not so constrained, for he touched the dead, the blind, the lame, the outcasts, even taking children into his arms and blessing them. He saw none as being an ‘untouchable’, for even the lepers experienced his healing touch. And the disciples at the Last Supper had him touch their feet in the act of washing them; the action of the Servant King!
So let us not abandon, for fear of infection or condemnation, that basic need to feel flesh on flesh, something even the new-born baby inherits as it is placed immediately on its mother’s breast. Or in the case of Chris, in the Archers, when he was told to unbutton his shirt so Martha can rest on his bare chest. For so often the touch of the kindly hand can say more than words and, perhaps, help heal a mind broken by rejection.
I leave you with some words from an evening hymn written, by Henry Twells, when he was headteacher at Godolphin School, as he invigilated an examination!
‘And none, O Lord, has perfect rest,
For none is wholly free from sin;
And they who fain would serve Thee best
Are conscious most of wrong within.
Thy touch has still its ancient power;
No word from Thee can fruitless fall:
Hear, in this solemn evening hour,
And in Thy mercy heal us all.’
Reverend John Whittle