I have been thinking about the power of touch in recent days. It began when I went to see the new movie adaptation of the musical ‘Cats’. I am a huge fan of the stage show, having seen it multiple times, and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the movie. I was anxious that too much licence to change or embellish would be taken and diminish the essence of the story for me. The differences I observed were minimal, although the attempts at humour given to Jennyanydots (Rebel Wilson) felt unnecessary and un-funny while the addition of one new song seemed to work.
I think the reason I liked the movie so much was the closeness you can feel to the performers through the giant screen. I was able to read the facial expressions far easier which helps me to connect even greater to the story. I got caught up in the loving concern from Old Deuteronomy (played brilliantly by Dame Judy Dench) and the inquisitive nature of Victoria (Francesca Hayward), but by far, I was most impacted by the passion and despair in the face of Grizabella (Jennifer Hudson) as she sang the most famous song from this musical, ‘Memory’.
To be totally honest, I am not an avid fan of the song. This would be due to many, many renditions I have heard in a variety of settings from every range of capability and tunefulness! I know the song well, but for the first time a couple of lines and their deeper meaning really struck me.
It is in the last verse that she sings “Touch me, it’s so easy to leave me all alone with my memory of my days in the sun.” It was evident that all she wanted was for a physical demonstration of acceptance from another individual, any individual. This was proven to be so when, shortly after this performance, (spoiler alert!!) she receives the affection she so desperately craves.
Why has this meant so much at this time? You see, physical touch is important to me. It always has been. I am a kinaesthetic personality which means I experience the world by touching it. Before I entered the ministry I even had personalised number plates – HUGME!
The importance of touch has become even more noticeable to me at this current moment in time as my husband, my greatest source of cuddles and touch, is on deployment for Bushfire Recovery as part of his role as a Defence Force chaplain. He has been gone for eleven days now, and is not expected to return for a few more weeks. I have noticed how much I miss that incidental contact during the day. I have been blessed by many cuddles from my children to make up for it, but what happens to people who don’t have access to that type of affection?
I am reminded of the story of a man suffering from leprosy who asked Jesus to heal Him. This scenario can be found in Matthew chapter 8 verses 1-3. Jesus does something incredibly shocking, especially for his day and age. He reaches out and touches the man, and the Bible tells me that from that moment he was healed. I honestly believe that Jesus not only physically healed this man, but took a step further in healing him emotionally with that simple action of acceptance as demonstrated by that moment of touch.
How could we possibly show that same level of compassion and mercy to those around us who may be feeling ‘leprous’ in our society? By being brave enough to reach out and connect. To indicate to another individual that they matter, and are part of the wider community is a great gift that can be offered to someone in pain. Will you be brave enough to ask God to show you someone that you can bring comfort to? I hope so.