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Friday, July 12, 2013

Simple Touch

Have you ever had one of those profound moments that might be mundane for others, but it stays with you all day and into the evening?  Well, I had one today.

This afternoon at work, -I am a ranger at Independence National Historical Park- I was rather bored waiting for tours to enter Independence Hall when to my surprise a colleague opened the back door and a blind elderly couple cautiously stepped in.  They were part of a tour that would be entering any minute through the front door and were brought over early so they could get in with ease.   I quickly walked down the hallway to guide them toward the first stop on the tour. As I offered my arm, the man took it and held my hand while his wife held his arm and they walked with me as I described the building on our way to the first stop on the tour.  As the tour progressed, I led them to another room, and at the conclusion, I led them to the exit door and on toward their destination on Walnut Street. 

Most visitors avoided the couple, not wanting to bump into them, but also not offering assistance. Yet each time I offered, the gentleman took my hand, small and fragile compared to his, and I was moved by the ease with which he did so and the fact that he willingly depended on that simple touch to guide him. Quite different from the all-too-prevalent tendency to avoid touching people we do not know.

The whole experience reminded me how powerful simple touch can be.  Surely we have all craved it and been nourished by it at some point.  Although I am not a particularly touchy-feely person, some of my fondest memories involve simple touch Such as my father holding my hand in church; his rugged hands spoke of strength and hard labor while his gentleness spoke of tender love for his child.  Yet I sometimes take those high-five, quick touch moments for granted in my daily life.  It is heartbreaking to think of those who go day by day with no simple touch to sooth them at all. 

With that in mind, when I am greeted with touch whether it be my child's embrace, my husband's caress, or simply a visitor at work shaking my had for a job well done, I will be aware of the value of the meaningful and essential sense of touch.

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