By Charles Towne
If somebody were to shake his fist in your face and exclaim, “You touch me and I will rip your arm off and beat you with it!”, in all likelihood that would not bode well for a future relationship. In fact, those words just might be a good reason to practice “social distancing.”
Over the years that I was a zoo director I had the opportunity to witness first hand the importance and value of touch in various species of animals, especially those that are referred to as “social” animals, like lions, tigers, bears, primates and ungulates.
Take the large cats for instance. A lioness “touches” and caresses her cubs. She paws them, nuzzles them, and licks them, and without such touching, the cubs weaken and die. It is the same with bear cubs; they thrive and are healthy when touched. Much study has taken place with primates concerning the value of touch, and again, without this wonderful gift, the subject weakens and invariably dies.
God created each of us, as well as animals in the natural world, with a specific need. In fact our physical and emotional health, in order to develop properly, demands, craves, to be touched. In fact this is so important that when deprived of this essential element, infant mortality increases. Yes, babies die.
It seems that we as humans, instead of developing compassionate care, we are sadly becoming more indifferent to certain groups within our society, primarily the very young, and the very old.
How important a hug is can best be illustrated by looking back with the perfect eye of hindsight.
In the early 1900’s, following the first world war and the conflagration of the Spanish flu, many family units were disrupted, torn apart if you will, sadly resulting in many infants being “dumped” in orphanages. Such places were unprepared for this terrible influx and the babies suffered.
Most of the orphanages of yesteryear, especially following a pandemic wherein family units were disrupted due to the death of the parents, led to a disproportionate number and high rate of infant mortality due to the lack of compassionate care.
Have we learned? Are we becoming more compassionate? There is a great need, a demand for skilled nursing care and for people that are not indifferent or aloof to the needs of the ill among us.
There was, In the city of Bethsaida, a beggar. The fellow was a beggar because he had been born blind.
One day a stranger was traveling through the town with his entourage, and the blind man heard the noise of many feet and much talking, so he asked about it and he was told that it was a miracle worker from Nazareth, Jesus Ben Joseph by name.
Oh wow, a miracle worker! And our blind man really needed a miracle.
The blind beggar called out, “Jesus of Nazareth, help me!” But the crowd kept moving away, so the blind man called out louder, in desperation, “JESUS BEN JOSEPH, PLEASE, HAVE MERCY ON ME!”
The blind man noticed a difference in the noise of the crowd, and he sensed that someone was standing in front of him, and then a man’s voice spoke, “How can I help you friend?”
The blind beggar raised his blind eyes to Jesus and said again, “Help me, please. If you will, you can give me what I lack!”
Jesus knelt in front of the blind beggar and picked up a pinch of dirt, spit in it, worked it between his fingers, and then he gently, ever so gently, applied it to the blind man’s eyes.
Well, you know the rest of the story, how Jesus told the man to go to the river and wash, which he did. And, because of the touch of the Life Giver, as well as his obedience, and more love then he had ever known, his sight was restored.
Yes, God is like that – He likes to give good gifts to His children.
Touch, your gentle touch – whether it be a hug, a compassionate hand on the shoulder, or a kindly grasp of another’s hand – can too, be the touch of God. Healing can begin from a gentle touch, healing for so many who need to experience more love than they may have ever known.
Charles Towne is first and foremost a Christian. An octogenarian, author, journalist, wildlife photographer, naturalist, caregiver, and survivor, his life has been and continues to be, a never-ending adventure filled with possibilities never imagined. He has adopted the philosophy that to Live fully, laugh uproariously, love passionately, and learn like there is no tomorrow, is a formula for a long and joy-filled life.