A week ago, my pastor spoke on Luke 8:40-56, aka Jesus Raises a Dead Girl and Heals a Sick (Bleeding) Woman.  I have heard a couple of really interesting takes on this story, especially from Max Lucado in He Still Moves Stones.  This time around, it was presented with a special emphasis on touch.  Jesus physically touching the dead girl, and the sick woman touching Jesus to receive healing.  Jesus walked all the way to Jairus’ house just so that he could touch the girl.  He could have healed from a distance, but chose to give his physical presence and touch.

I read recently a book called Everything Belongs, which I am still mulling over and delving deeper into.  One of the many interesting things it talked about was kinesthetic learning, or basically learning through doing and touching.  What really struck me was the idea that babies cannot verbally communicate with their parents, yet somehow, babies know their mother, and mothers their babies, in a way deeper than most if not all relationships this side of heaven.  I mean, the mother doesn’t even see her kid until 9 months after conception, but knows that child already better than people she has spent her whole life conversing with.  And the only way they have had to get to know each other is through touch.  For months, heck, over a year after the child is born it doesn’t even possess the faculties to talk.

Eventually all this weird train of thought drove me back to the idea of identity.  Warning to the reader: from here on out this could get weird…it’s tough to know if I’m losing you or you’re agreeing with me.  I am not a very touchy person…I appreciate and miss touch when I don’t get it, but I have always felt closer to people by simply being with them.  And by that I mean feeling comfortable in silence because you don’t need to fill the air with trivial words; just being with someone when they have a crack in their wall and can’t hold down the fort anymore.  So much in this life is dishonest.  We communicate in layers of sarcasm, socially dictated conversational patterns, generalities and formalities.  We talk passionately about things outside of ourselves to avoid the passions inside.  So much of touch is dishonest, too.  I don’t even need to begin to talk about how people use touch to use other people.

I guess what I am sorta getting at is that we spend most of our lives forgetting how to experience someone through touch.  It’s a weird idea, but if someone asked you to describe a friend, how many of you would use any language related to the five senses, besides sight?  I don’t even begin to know where I am going with this, but just think about what a baby knows about its mother.  It doesn’t know her job, her salary, her favorite food, which tv show is her guilt pleasure, even her name.  It doesn’t know that she is average height, has brown eyes and still hasn’t been able to work off that baby weight.  The baby knows her smell, her touch, the sound of her voice, her taste and her face.  It doesn’t know she is in the room because it sees her and compares her features to what it remembers.  Apparently, even if you lined up nine identical twins, the baby would know its mother.  How many of us know ANYONE that well?

I guess it all come back around to touch…before the baby knew anything about its mother or even itself, it learned through touch.  It will be interesting to see how far we can go into strictly technology-based relationships and communication before we realize how terribly short even a full text conversation falls short of simply hugging someone.