Friday, April 8, 2011

INSTRUMENT OF GRACE – The Power of Touch

When you touch something, it touches you.

Touch is underrated. Sure, it gets credit as a way of discovering and exploring—that is to say, as a receiver of sensation. What we seldom appreciate, though, is that, of all our senses, only touch is always a two-way street. You can usually see, hear or smell something pretty much anonymously—without its being involved in any way. But when you touch something, it touches you.

Many years ago I was walking out of my office building for lunch when I heard a disquieting sound from across the street. It was the sound of impact, not like the metal-on-metal crash of a car accident, but something more dull, a heavy thud I suspected right away could not be a good thing. When I got to the top of the steps, I could see what had happened. A workman who’d been perched on the roof of a three-story rooming house had fallen nearly all the way to the driveway below. He’d caught the corner of a dumpster, where he lay, draped like a rag doll, his body bent grotesquely backward.

By the time I and a few other passers-by had run to the scene, someone had already called 911. The guy was conscious, but I think he was going into shock. We didn’t want to move him because of the near certainty of spinal injury. So we threw several jackets over him and prayed the ambulance would be there soon.

    When I opened my eyes after a minute or so, 
    he was looking right into them, and the look 
    of pain and terror was gone.

The man was terrified. I think he’d already realized he was in pretty bad shape. Maybe he’d noticed that he couldn’t feel his legs or his body; I didn’t ask. I took one of his hands in mine, closed my eyes and tried to pour my good wishes, my spiritual energy, everything I was feeling for him into the clammy flesh. I prayed that God would use me as a conduit for His grace.

There were probably ten other people around by this time, and I think some of them were trying to ask me and the victim questions. I'm sure others were trying to encourage him. But I’d completely tuned them out. I think he had too, because, when I opened my eyes after a minute or so, he was looking right into them, and the look of pain and terror was gone.

I’ve asked myself many times what this apparent connection was all about. I don’t know if my touch really played a role in helping to calm this poor guy or not. But I think, if for no better reason than my believing so strongly in the power of this connection, that it was indeed so.

The ambulance came, the EMTs immobilized the victim and away they sped. I looked for some reference to the accident in the papers, but I guess that, like the scores of other non-lethal injuries that happen to people every day, this one hadn't warranted a mention. I could only hope and pray that he’d recover enough to lead a good life.

I know I’m walking on thin ice to presume there’s power in my touch. After all, who do I think I am, God?

Well…yes, I am God. So are you and so is everyone and every thing. As a matter of faith, this is where the rubber meets the road. Whatever higher power we believe in, if we don't believe it can and will channel its grace through us, aren't we denying it the chance to use us as its instruments of love? Who are we to make such a denial? Author and lecturer Marianne Williamson puts it so well:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world.
Do you believe in the power of touch? How have you sensed it flowing to, from or through you? We'd love to hear about it here on OMW! -- Click on Comments below.

    "You are not here to save the world, but you are 
     here to touch the hands that are within your reach."


El Perseguidor said...

How impressive and how true this is. I do believe we are children of God, but I didn't realize I can be an instrument of faith and healing. Love the artcle.

Jeffrey Willius said...

Hey Perseguidor -- Thanks for your comment! Like so much of this spiritual journey we're on, the power of touch is not so much something you seek out as it is something you LET out. Since it's an expression of God, it already exists within every one of us.

Unknown said...

Good story Jeffrey, but I heard the "deepest fear" quotation attributed to Nelson Mandela.

Meg said...

Jeff, WOW! Your description of the man's accident was so vivid and gut-wrenching, realy conveying the horror of the situation. And so the beauty of your connection with him is that much more powerful. I have heard that humility is accepting both our strengths and our weaknesses, and it is pride in reverse to not acknowledge and honor the positives we have to offer. Remarkable post..thank you for being YOU and sharing your experience and perspective!

Jeffrey Willius said...

Gerry -- The attribution's been widely given to Mandela, but apparently he just used it in a speech, possibly without proper credit. THanks for the comment!

Jeffrey Willius said...

Hi Meg -- You're so kind! Yes, it was a powerful experience, one I have a hard time taking ownership of. I think many of us struggle with modesty, with not wanting to appear presumptuous. There's an element of faith to it -- you don't realize how powerful touch -- or just simple presence -- can be until you give it a chance.

Post a Comment

Thanks for visiting One Man's Wonder! I'd love to hear your comments on this post or my site in general.
And please stay in touch by clicking on "Subscribe" below.