I interviewed Bruce, a burned out homeless, alcoholic man for a couple of hours one day. He didn't want to talk at first, but after I tried to chit-chat with him for a few minutes, he warmed up and off we went talking about his life, starting at his childhood and working our way up to present day. He had no emotion except for the couple of minutes while he remembered a good time as a teen where he and a youth group from a small church went out to help a neighbor with his delapadated home. When that story was over, the emotionaless face came back. When we were done with the interview, God pushed me to touch him. His hands were literally black with grease and what looked like oil. It was not pleasant but I grabbed them and told him Jesus loved him. His bright blue eyes immediately glistened. Then I put my arms around him, pulled him in close to me and prayed for him. When I was done, he continued to bow and prayed himself. He looked up at me with more tears, smiled and silently walked off. He seemed choked up. I certainly was with that lump in my throat. What brought the tears on in him I wondered. I sat back down on the bench as I watched him fade into the distance. I wondered how long it had been since someone had prayed with him, how long had it been since someone touched him.
An article I read the other day said this:
The majority of nursing home residents suffering from dementia like Alzheimer’s disease develop behavioural symptoms of dementia, such as restlessness, searching and wandering, tapping and banging, pacing and walking, and vocalization. Current treatment involves drugs, but a recent study showed that intervention consisting of therapeutic touch significantly reduces these behavioural symptoms. Impressive is that the therapeutic touch employed in the study was only provided twice per day, for three days. Each therapeutic intervention lasted only 5-7 minutes.
I've also read an article about two newborn babies in a hospital. One was touched daily while the other one wasn't. The touched one thrived and the other one didn't. . .until that one began to be touched. They both left the hospital healthy and happy.
I ponder. . .if we were to reach out to our homeless neighbors and touch them as we talked, listened to them unconditionally, and hold them as we pray, could healing begin in their souls?
this volunteer knows:)
I know when someone hugs me, it makes me feel special and loved in that moment and it carries on with me into the day. I think not only for our homeless neighbors, but for the tired, cranky mother in the store, the older man or woman who is sitting by themselves in church, the tattooed teen sitting alone on a mall bench. . .even once, if it makes them feel special and loved in that moment. . .it's a memory they can carry with them and maybe God will use that memory for good. I believe God does not waste anything done with the love of Christ. What do you say, is it worth a try?
I have a feeling Bruce would say "Yes."