I was standing at a bus shelter waiting on the 15A bus that would take me into Dublin city center.
The young couple next to me stepped out first when the bus arrived. It was then that I noticed that the young woman was blind.
I watched as the young man accompanying her escorted her onto the bus—allowing her to accomplish almost everything by herself and only stepping in when necessary. Once seated they clasped hands and exchanged tender affection. I wrote a song, inspired by this encounter.
Tender fingertips running along my lips
are your eyes straining to see,
The face you’ve never seen, not even in your dreams
for your fingertips are your eyes ..
~ Gerard Murphy 1998
Prior to and and throughout my college years, I spent many summers as a camp counselor at camps for visually impaired and blind youth; consequently I have developed a loving sensitivity to the blind and have learned so much from them—particularly their refined sensitivity to touch.
A few years ago Brenda Peterson authored a book of essays entitled, Nature and Other Mothers. The first entry—In Praise of Skin—is a gem: At one point in her life she was afflicted by severe skin rashes. She had done the rounds of doctors but had found no cure. Multiple medications proved ineffective—the rash always returned.
One day her grandmother assessed her and pronounced a more “intuitive” diagnosis: “Skin needs to be touched!”
Her grandmother then began to give her regular skin massages and these did what conventional/sophisticated medicines couldn’t do—they cured her.
Peterson’s grandmother is right: Skin needs to be touched!
Healing, light, love, compassion, energy, forgiveness, reverence, intimacy and tenderness, are communicated through touch. But what we often “miss” here, is that touch is a two-sided experience.
To touch anyone or anything provides a dual sensation; we feel what we are touching and feel the sensation of being touched.
Try it: rub your thumb and index finger together and you will feel each finger feeling and being felt. I tried it this morning while walking barefoot on the wet, dewy grass around my home: I became aware that I was in skin-to-skin contact with the earth. I felt my skin touching the earth and was “present” to the awareness that the earth (simultaneously) was receiving, experiencing and returning my touch—with reverential kindness. And that, for me, was a prayer of blessing…
Sometimes when my kids are in a “cranky space” and start hitting each other, I hold up my hands and ask, “What are these?” They answer, “Hands.” I continue, “What are they for?” They pause—then recalling the last time we had this Q & A session—one may fumblingly respond, “For art, cooking, and making things.” “Yes!” I invariably add, “and for always and only showing loving-kindness to those around us.”
A wise teacher once commented: you can only heal what you love, you can only love what you know and you can only know what you touch.
It’s okay if we’re “touchy-feely” at times; we just need to be mindful of the extraordinary healing and loving energy our touch can communicate and remember to extend this energy to the natural environment outside our door.
It misses our touch!
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock
Photo Credit: flickr