Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash


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.


  1. Dear NH, You being moved, touched me mightily. May you feel the touch of God’s blessed hand today and every day, bless you dear one. By the way, this one is a chapter out of the caregiver book that is in the publishers right now, Chaz

  2. Very moving and thought provoking article my friend. Couldn’t help but think of the dozens of feral cats we have taken care of over many years. Many that have adopted our yard as theirs live long lives (if the coyotes stay away) but are never ones to be touched. They became feral because they never experienced human touch very early in their lives and as a result fear humans. Sharyn worked with a feral cat for five years and was well on the way to making her an inside cat only to have a coyote ruin her plans to keep Winnie safe. I found your orphanage and zoo reference to be an interesting corollary to our experience with our social distancing feline friends. Thanks for getting my mind kick-started on another Sunday morning.

  3. Mike McFadden my friend, Henry David Thoreau said it very well, “Every creature is better alive than dead, men and moose and pine trees; and he that understands it aright will rather preserve its life than destroy it. It is a sad affair when men take life so lightly, with little regard. I fear the wrath of God when we are so indifferent to the innocent. We should fear the wrath of God for the millions of Lives that have so callously been ended because they were considered little more than an inconvenience. God bless you and yours Mike, Chaz

  4. Wow!! You are absolutely right about being touched lovingly by another person. It is so necessary and actually “life-giving”. There is something about another person’s touch that makes us come alive.
    Maybe because we feel like someone cares. I pray for those in hospitals, nursing homes and other care facilities, who have lost the caring touch of their loved ones through all this pandemic.
    I hope they experience it again very soon. God bless you!

  5. Dear CSG my prayer is that the world will allow Papa God to touch the hearts of all those around them today. Let us all be what you want us to be Papa. Thank you for your kind words and may you feel the miracle workers touch today. Bless you and fill you with His love, Chaz

  6. Thank you friend.
    “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” ― Leo F. Buscaglia

  7. EdG, the quote from Leo is so appropriate in these times when humans seem to have lost what it means to be truly compassionate. Bless you and yours, Chaz

  8. Yes…this recent “pandemic” has filled many with the fear of touch…but, it strikes me as sad that the very thing we need the most is being thought of as dangerous. Me thinks there is something more to that than meets the eye. In my experience, we humans NEED each other…and the more we understand that, the less fearful we need to be. God placed that need in us…and I am going to just keep on touching anyone that needs it. A kind touch can do so much. Emotional health is every bit as important as physical health…they go “hand in hand” pun intended!

  9. Dear Faithy, you are so right about the value of touch. And sad its it is we are now told that it could still plague us for another six months. Fear seems to be controlling a lot of people right now. The bible tells us to to be wise, but it also tells us not to give or take offense. Let us be like Jesus in all things. Bless us all, Chaz

  10. Beautiful reminder that touch is important. I just read this aloud to a six-year-old. I asked him, “Do you like to be hugged?” “Yes, I do,” he said with a nod. “And do you like to hug?” “Yes, I do,” he said with a smile. Then he reached and hugged me.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here