Friday, October 15, 2010

Out of Touch

"At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet."  -Plato

I heard recently that the average person needs 15 positive touches every day. One family therapist says that we need 4 hugs a day for survival, 8 hugs for maintenance, and 12 hugs for growth. Now, if your like me you might be thinking, that sounds like a lot of hugs. Or maybe, I'm not that touchy-feely. Recently, I experienced the healing power of a hug. I reunited with some old friends and one friend gave me one of those "Brad!" running-to-meet-me-hugs. I felt so loved, valued, appreciated. One of my Friends recently wondered out loud, "Why don't we greet each other like some of our children greet their friends?" We wondered together, when do we unlearn that sort of joy, enthusiasm, and warmth? 

Most of us probably have heard what can happen to a young child who doesn't get physical touch. They can literally die. Touch starvation can also cause what is know as Failure to Thrive. The part of the brain that cannot fully develop in the womb (for exit reasons) requires the sense of touch to synchronize and develop. I wonder how many of us are failing to thrive because of a lack of touches, connections, nudges, smiles. How many of our elderly are starved for physical touch? How many of us assume that we don't need connections because we have simply shut off to life and others?

Before continuing on, I recommend watching this video about the free hugs movement.This one in Italy.

What was your reaction? When you think of Jesus, what images come to mind? Do you have an understanding of Jesus having a touch ministry? I just did a quick word search on I typed in "Jesus" and "touch." 14 references. He touches a man with leprosy, "be clean." Jesus touches his disciples, "don't fear." Filled with compassion Jesus touched the man, "be healed." Jesus said, "let the children come to me." and he touched them and blessed them.

I know, I know, we are keenly aware of the abuses and the awkwardness and the aversions to touch. I'm starting to wonder if some of this is a symptom of a healthy affection-connection starved culture. One of my friends recently said, as a part of this conversation, "If I gave piggy back rides to children at the park, I would be looking at jail time." He might be right, but how sad. We have people and children starved for affection, connection, attention, and we are so afraid.

Have you had many interaction from people of other cultures? They often have completely different "comfort zones."  When we hosted Hector from the Dominican Republic, he had to unlearn touch, close proximity, physical affection. At first, he would sit right next to me on the coach, sometimes drape a leg over my leg. When we would talk he would stand close, touch my arm... A few months into his stay, he learned (subconsciously, he wouldn't even remember these changes) that this wasn't culturally normal for his new environment. I am sure that this contributed to his loneliness, depression, isolation. I'll end these ranting with a few queries. I love queries!
  • Are we out of touch?
  • Are we touchy?
  • Do we reach out and touch faith?
  • Do we have just the right touch?
  • Do we have touch and go (tag) rituals when you leave one another?

1 comment:

  1. Sweet video. Sooooo many people don't get enough of those positive touches. Maybe that's a possible big advantage of having kids. I get to hug my boys all the time. And I love Zac's new line of "Hey, mom...I love you!".