Reach Out and Touch Someone

Reach out and touch someone.

No, not by calling them or texting them or sending them an e-mail. I mean reach out and physically touch someone.

If you have read my posts the last two days, you know I am at the Jesuit Retreat House in OshKosh giving a weekend retreat for Marquette University faculty and staff. We ended our retreat session last night with a simple water blessing. After leading the participants in a guided meditation, I invited them to come up two-by-two and bless each other with water (really, be a conduit of God’s blessing) from the bowl I had placed on a table in front of the room. (I told them they could bless each other in any way they wished – other than dumping the whole bowl of water on the other person.)

It was a very sacred experience. Sitting in the back watching the retreatants come two-by-two and prayerfully bless each other almost brought me to tears. Some made crosses on each others foreheads and hands. Some held their hands together in the water. Many hugged.

Later, one of the retreatants came to me to tell me how powerful he found the experience. And then he remarked, “People don’t touch each other enough.”

I woke up with that line on my mind. I’m of Italian descent, so we touch everyone. We kiss and hug everyone hello and good-bye. But that is clearly not the case with everyone. And yet we benefit so much from the touch of another. There is actually quite a bit of scientific research documenting the emotional and physical health benefits that come from touch.

I recognize that some people have particular wounds that may make touching difficult for them, and I don’t want to minimize that. But for the rest of us: Reach out and touch someone!