All this staying at home business is necessary, I know, but I miss being out among other people. I teach a Sunday School class from my home every Sunday morning, and I can see some of the people who join in the class online on my little phone screen, but it is not the same as being there with them in a classroom.
I have heard several people say that, when this quarantine is lifted, they are going out and hug a lot of people. I am a “hugger,” and I hug men and women, boys and girls; I don’t discriminate. Right now, when I do get out (with my mask on) and see someone I haven’t seen in awhile, I don’t usually hug them. Fist bumps or elbow bumps have to suffice.
Human beings don’t just like to be touched, we need to be touched. Nothing is lonelier than having to stay away from the touch of another person. In Jesus’ day, there was a group of people called lepers, people who may have had the real thing — leprosy — or they had psoriasis or some other chronic skin problem. They were required to stay ten feet away from anyone else and say, “Unclean, unclean,” to warn others to not come close.
One day Jesus came upon a leper and Jesus touched him in order to heal him. That made Jesus ritually unclean so no one was to touch him the rest of the day or until he could perform certain rituals to become clean again. But how do you think the guy felt who was touched by Jesus? There is a sense in which, whether the guy was actually healed or not, that touch might have been the most important thing that happened to him in a long time. Yes, he was healed, and I imagine that the guy never forgot how important that touch was.
When we hug someone, when we shake a hand, when we pat a shoulder, we are sharing ourselves in a way that brings comfort, joy, relief, affirmation, and healing. Grace flows through touch, and God’s love is spread to others. I’ll be so glad to see you when we can get out again, and don’t be surprised if I hug you.
Dr. Jay Hodges can be reached at Jayhodges610@yahoo.com.