Monday, February 3, 2014

the body remembers

"To keep our bodies less defended, to live in our body right now, to be present to others in a cellular way, is also the work of healing of past hurts and the many memories that seem to store themselves in the body. The body seems to never stop offering its messages; but fortunately, the body never lies, even though the mind will deceive you constantly... It is very telling that Jesus usually physically touched people when he healed them; he knew where the memory and hurt was lodged, and it was in the body itself."
~Richard Rohr, 
Spirituality and the Twelve Steps"

"God comes to us disguised as our life

And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment and begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him off by himself away from the crowd. He put his finger into the man’s ears and, spitting, touched his tongue; then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him, ‘Ephphaltha!’ (that is, ‘Be opened!’).” 
~Gospel of Mark 7:33

There are many stories of healing and cures in the Gospels. My former pastor often reminded us to pay attention to the details of a story because those specific details help us to better understand Jesus. 

As I read the passage from the Gospel of Mark about the deaf man, I am profoundly struck by the way Jesus physically touched the deaf man with the speech impediment. Since St. Mark doesn’t tell us the deaf man’s name, I’m going to call him David.

We’ve all heard the importance of touch, how babies who are given food but not touch or affection will literally fade and die, and how hospitals use therapy dogs to heighten the healing of patients, especially those with long-term conditions. 

When recovering from surgery I was perplexed by how much I craved physical touch—and how physically distant people became. It felt like a direct correlation—the more I desired the gentle touch of another human being, the more that well-meaning person would step back and say, “I don’t want to hurt you.”

Jesus knew how much David craved this physical contact. He took him aside, away from the crowd, to give him his full attention. 

I can imagine Jesus holding his hand, looking into David’s eyes with compassion and love. I picture him giving David a reassuring hug to communicate his intent, and waiting until David nodded his consent. Jesus didn’t need to touch David to cure his deafness or his speech impediment, but he did! 

He put his fingers into David’s ears. He spit. He touched David’s tongue. He went out of his way to touch him, and by doing so, he nursed David’s emotional and spiritual needs as well. 

David was cured of all his physical impediments, but above all, David was touched by Love.
Elena loving on baby Ignacio
[A modified original of this was published first here]