Saturday, January 06, 2007

A Simple Touch

How often do we stop and realize that a simple touch is all that's needed to lift someone's spirit? As I accompany my wife to the assisted living center where her mother is a resident, I make it my business to make physical contact with every resident there. It hadn't always been that way.

Over a year ago something happened that brought me to understand the difference between touching someone and not doing so. Prior to that day I merely walked in, tended to visiting with Maw, and nodded to someone if their eyes met mine. But that day was different. When we came into the center it was lunch time. Maw didn't look very enthusiastic about eating and so I tried to lift her spirits. I said: "Hey Maw, that stuff looks good enough to eat!" At that moment, the other 15 residents burst out in laughter. All eyes and ears were on me and my big mouth. Maw even brightened up and started to eat.

After lunch as I was walking towards the door I became overwhelmed with guilt. Guilt that convicted me of keeping the light of our lord to myself for the past year every time I went there. Guilt that convicted me of not brightening up someone elses day because I was too selfish to share a moment of my time with anyone other than family. That day, that moment, changed my life in a big way.

On the next visit, and each subsequent visit to this day, I greet everyone individually as I see them. And I make it a point to touch them, on their hand, shoulder, side of their face, whatever opportunity presents itself for each individual. And guess what. They smile, their eyes glisten, and they say "Thank You".

Since that day I've delivered many a morning devotion, afternoon sermon, and personal prayers for individual residents. I'm no longer that man who comes to see Maw. I'm the preacher man, the funny man, and the healing man.

I started this post to reflect upon how we can make a difference in the lives of others by a simple touch. But I just realized that it is the one doing the touching who's life is changed, changed by a simple touch.

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