My willingness to be trained by an animal is not new. Although I have only had two dogs, I still miss them dearly. The only photo I have of Fudgie, a collie cocker mix who was one of the great loves of my life, was taken in the backyard after school. My Grade Five self is wearing the navy tunic which Mom despaired of because, as usual, long-white-haired Fudge is lying on my lap on the grass. His head is lolling back as we gaze at each other in mutual adoration. The tunic is probably white with his hair. Jewell's hair was even longer and even now, almost two years after her death, I find the odd reminder of her life with us and well up with love.
It got me thinking about the sacrament of touch, which unites two living beings in a moment of pure grace. We reach for touch, we yearn for touch, we are strengthened by touch. Because it is shorthand for love, a "touching" scene tugs at our heartstrings. Baptism places it where it belongs -- at the centre. And when we say that someone has "the touch" we mean that that person somehow breathes life/love into someone or even something (like a tenor sax, for which my dad had a touch). When we say somebody is a bit "touched," I think we mean that they are so open to the world that it overwhelms them. One theory about autism and the discomfort with being touched is that the sensation is simply overwhelming.
Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel centres its theme on the touch God bestows upon Adam; it is understood that everything good flows from that gift. Conversely, if the world is full of pain and fear, perhaps it is because we are not quick enough or willing enough to touch one another in some way. Though my beloved father was very shy and dignified, whenever I flew home for a visit, he and Mom would be standing at the bottom of the elevator and he would be the first to envelope me in his long arms.
My life has been rich in touch and I am so grateful. As a result, I understand that I'm a soft touch. Let's all stay in touch.