LIFE MATTERS

Reach out and touch someone

By Gerry Lewis | Published Saturday, May 12, 2018

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Just wait ’til I get my hands on you!

That statement can either strike fear into your heart or make you breathless with anticipation. It depends on who’s saying it and why.

This week is the second in a five-part series from my sabbatical journey on re-engaging our five senses to make sense out of life.

This week’s focus is “Don’t just touch; really feel.”

My sabbatical is including a significant amount of reading. I’m planning on reading one book per week. I normally don’t read at that pace because of everything else that’s going on in my life. But this month, I can read at a leisurely pace rather than using that time for emails, text messages, social media and phone conversations.

Another difference is that I’ll be reading real paper books, while unplugging from electronic devices. I will have my hands on paper and will have to turn every page. I’ll use a pen to underline meaningful passages and write in the margins. As much as I love the electronic methods, there is something uniquely wonderful about the feel of a good book in your hands.

I’m also keeping a handwritten journal during my sabbatical. I bought a special leather-bound journal just for this purpose. I took it out of the box and took the protective cover off when I arrived at the retreat cabin last week. So many of my notes and memos are typically recorded in an iPhone app. Touching pen to paper brings about a new kind of reflection.

The most important part of making sense through touch this week will come on Sunday. It’s Mother’s Day, and I’m actually going to spend it with my Mom. I always call her on special days and I try to talk to her at least once a week, but we haven’t actually been in the same room with each other in several months. My full-time “church work” for the past 34 years has made in-person visits on Mother’s Day exceptionally rare.

As a dad and grandpa, I know how important it is to be able to actually put our hands on our kids and our grandkids. A voice over the phone or face on the computer screen is wonderful, but it can’t take the place of a hug, lap snuggle or kiss. I won’t put my 200-plus pounds in my little mama’s lap, but the rest of those will happen for sure on this Mother’s Day.

Our sense of touch is not just about discerning hot or cold, or rough or smooth. It’s not just about physical contact, but intimate connection. Our culture tends to equate intimacy with sexual contact and that is certainly one kind of intimacy. But appropriate touch has the potential for deep connections, not only between lovers, but between parents and children, and between close friends.

A handshake, pat on the back or punch in the arm can express a deep connection when both parties understand the feeling behind the touch.

Life matters, friends. Who do you need to get your hands on this week?

Dr. Gerry Lewis, author, blogger, church consultant and leadership coach, serves as executive director of the Harvest Baptist Association in Decatur.

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