From: Lucia Flaherty
Faith and hands: these two things come together in Mark 5: 21-43. A woman, bleeding for 12 years, touches Jesus and is healed. A young girl’s father, in faith, asks Jesus to touch his dying daughter. After the girl dies, Jesus touches her hand and brings her back to life.
In David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, one of the characters loses his faith in humanity. The scene takes place around Boston’s Park Street Station, where the man extends his hand and asks commuters to touch him. He wants people to recognize him as human; he wants acknowledgement; he wants connection. People’s responses range from confusion to repulsion. Instead of touching the man, people throw money at him. Nearby panhandlers catch on and start to successfully employ the man’s tactic. Each day, the man grows more lonely and dispirited. He didn’t want or need the money—he wanted human contact. But all of the passing people except (spoiler alert) one guy, Mario, want nothing to do with him.
In churchy language, it is often said that we are the hands and feet of God. But what does this actually, physically look like? What does this look like in an anonymous city? What things do we touch and really believe that God is touching those things through us? What does it look like to reach out and touch God?
I hope that in this time of Lent, we make space to see God in the crowd, to approach him and to boldly touch him, trusting that he’ll heal and free us. I hope that we are letting him use our hands to touch those around us, to reach for their hands, to say I see you, God sees you, even when it feels uncomfortable or unfamiliar.
Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.
I live in Jamaica Plain with my family. I enjoy making things with my hands, particularly things I can feed to people.