The Laying on of Hands

The power of touch is indescribable. There are no words. It is human connection at its most visceral, primal, important level.

Can you imagine a child going through his life without anyone to hug him?

Touch, primarily, is what drew me to reading about Jesus. He was a healer. He touched people’s bodies, and he touched their hearts—he saw their wounds, he made them new.

I don’t know why we think it’s shameful to want touch in our lives. We think we’re supposed to be individualists, to tough things out, to muscle through.

But when touch comes from a kind and loving person, all our cares melt away.

As a woman who grew up with a single mom, I thought that in order to be tough and strong, I had to muscle through my life alone, without a man. I wasn’t supposed to need anything from anyone, men especially. When your lineage of women has been wounded, generation after generation, by men, your whole body becomes a raw nerve trying to fend them off.

I still think it’s important to show myself what I’m capable of in this life, what highs I can sail to, but that doesn’t mean I have to do it alone.

In Quaker meeting on Easter Sunday, many weeks ago, I thought about Jesus’s last days before crucifixion. He knew what was going to happen to him. He knew he was going to be tortured, abused, and killed. I ache for him when I read those passages, because he is so gentle and kind, and he did absolutely nothing wrong. All he wanted was to help people. And I remembered in my reading from the Gospel of John that he bowed down to the earth and prayed to God three times to take this cup from him, that he didn’t want to go through with it, that it was too impossible to bear.

And I felt the familiar welling in my chest, the shooting of hot energy in my body and pounding in my heart that told me I needed to speak. So I did, and—as is somewhat typical of me—I cried.

I said, “I just wish he had a woman to hold him, to ease his pain.”

And there were other sentences, like, “Men have so many things to bear in this life, so many struggles. But a woman’s love can make all the difference. It can comfort them, ease them. Men, just as much as women, need human touch.”

That was when I remembered Mary Magdalene, and I spoke of her, too. The canonical gospels largely leave Mary out, but she is my heroine. She is the woman Jesus loved. And I don’t care what the stupid Church Fathers say about how she wasn’t that significant, or that she was a prostitute or whore. That was a big, ridiculous lie, and even if she was, so what? She was a believer. She stood by my Savior’s side through all of his pain, through all of his struggle. She was there as he died, and she was there as he came back to life.

She came with oils.

We are so wounded as a culture by this idea that we have to stand on our own, that we can’t show weakness or vulnerability, that we need to carry our pain in a singular way. In a life of faith, we think sex is wrong, or has to be regimented and boring, un-fun. But acknowledging that Jesus had a companion of his own, someone so, so special and full of love, could change everything about the way we think of the Christian faith.

Hands have a healing power that words just cannot give. My Lord healed people, ceaselessly. He put his hands on the poor and broken-hearted and he made them see. He brought people back to life.

And there was one who was very special, who healed him. An amazing, kind-hearted woman who always stood by his side, even when his friends let him down, when his followers betrayed and denied him.

We live in a new era, an exciting time of promise and possibility. The old guard is losing its sway. (Good riddance!) The New Word is taking its hold.

It is time for the Marys of the world to stand up.


“Christchurch Meadow, Caversham. 29 May 2011”by Cowboy George is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Categories: spirituality and faith

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