Depending on culture, and life experiences, we have different, maybe ambiguous, feelings about touch. It may be warm and comforting, or stressful, even traumatizing. We asked whether there were conflicting messages in the story of the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet and dried them with her hair. Was it inappropriate? Or was it a service of humility and devotion? Touch is about intimacy, not necessarily about sex, but people often over-sexualize this story.
Think of how God touches you, and how we all can bring a touch of compassion into the lives of others. Jesus said, you always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me. In this way, the poor we encounter become surrogates for Jesus. We are called to reach out and touch them, whether with hands, food, clothing, shelter. These are all touches. But a street person will tell you, there is nothing quite like a handshake or a touch on the shoulder. That acknowledges that someone exists. The poor may also be those who are starved for the assurance of love, for a spiritual home, a community and a God welcoming their doubts and questions, and willing to touch them just as they are with all the wounds of their past.
How do we touch God? We acknowledge the God in one another. How does God touch us? Do we trust God sufficiently to allow ourselves to be touched, to have an intimate experience of the holy? How do we stay open for a God-touch? View the world as a place of possibility and hope, even when that seems difficult in a time of trouble. Have a spiritual discipline – exercise, meditation, music, being with nature – to keep you open for holy, tender touch. When we allow God to touch us, we are changed, and empowered to pass on tender touch in our world, remembering that those we anoint with kindness and compassion are, in fact, Christ’s body.