One of the things a world pandemic has taught us is that human beings need touch. My husband went to see his mother as she lay dying in the hospital, but he couldn’t touch her or even be in her presence. He spoke to her through the window of her room. She passed a few days later. I wonder if she would have lived longer if he’d been able to touch her.
When babies are not held, they develop an infant form of depression. Touch is the most highly-developed of a baby’s five senses. Through skin-to-skin contact, they receive the unmistakable message that someone loves them. Without that touch, they conclude that they don’t matter. God gave us breastfeeding for this reason. It allows for skin contact and eye gaze, building the brain of the infant.
Many of the other things we naturally do with infants also build the brain. Prosody, the high-pitched vocal singing, as in “Coochee-coochee-coo” comes forth, the voice naturally floating up into the high range when we notice an infant. Even this has a purpose: the infant’s ears resonate with higher pitches; the child becomes afraid at hearing lower pitches. We snuggle, tickle, rub noses—all communicating love and affection, and building that infant’s brain.
Sometimes humans just need a hug, or other physical token of love. How then, can we feel the presence of the invisible God? Well, he may not show up in flesh and blood, but we can go to the trees standing tall like strong arms and legs, and the rivers running like a bloodstream through the earth. We can surround ourselves with nature, asking God to send us His Holy Spirit to comfort us while the world around us falls apart.
Imagine yourself walking along a path through a forest. The mighty trees stand tall, swaying gently in the wind. Now imagine coming into a sunlit meadow with soft, green grass, bright flowers, and a little brook singing its way along. Imagine sitting in the soft grass. Jesus joins you there, sitting beside you as a Friend, interested in your life, your thoughts, your feelings. Oh, how sweet to be with Him. Suddenly, the sky darkens; the earth rumbles and shakes. Trees begin to snap and rocks shake loose from their foundations. Jesus takes you by the hand and leads you to a strong tower, built to withstand the storm. There you continue to enjoy His presence as He holds you until the storm passes.
Dear God, thank you for being a strong Protector of our souls. Thank you for giving us courage to face the storms that come upon us. Thank you for touching our lives with your presence. Help us feel you near. Amen.
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling” Psalm 46:1-3.