Tangible Touch

Twelve years without so much as a handshake, high five, nor a hug.  Can you imagine?  Touch is a biological and developmental need.  It helps us feel connected to others.  Touch reduces anxiety, forms bonds, lowers blood pressure, improves our outlook, and provides sensory input that we need to function and develop properly.  This morning, as I again read the story of the woman who’d been subject to bleeding for twelve years, in Luke, chapter eight, I saw the story through fresh eyes – through a perspective that I had not previously seen.  This woman had lived with not only the stigma of being considered “unclean” for twelve years, but she had likely lived in isolation for just as long.  The sheer loneliness was likely far worse than the condition itself.  I wonder if that is the very thing that drove her determination to hold onto the hope that she might be healed, if she could only touch the hem of His cloak?

Personally, I picture her experience as some sort of roller coaster ride.  Sheer determination to end her isolation propelled her through the throes of the crowd.  Hope reached out her hand for His hem, and joy unimagined must have been rising as she felt the bleeding cease.  Then, she was called out.  Would He take it back?  Would she be sent back to her isolated space for her violation of societal laws in her unclean state?  Imagine the momentary fear that tried to lay hold of her heart.  Somehow, faith continued to rise within her.  “Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at His feet.  In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched Him and how she had been instantly healed.  Then He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.” – (Luke 8:47-48) 

She was free!  Not only was she free from the illness that had plagued her for twelve long years, but she no longer needed to live in isolation.  The touch of His hem touched more than her hand, it touched her heart and soul.  Never again, would she be considered “untouchable“.

Lonely, untouched,Tangible Touch

a face in the crowd;

the world, silent,

despite being loud.

Who knows not touch,

in our world today?

Lonely, outcast,

let love light the way.

For He will show,

where the need is great;

are we willing,

to step out in faith?

Pat on the back,

a hug on the side;

what will it cost,

to give those denied?

Please show us, God,

how we’re meant to touch;

as Your hands, Lord,

to share Your love much.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us with an unfailing and everlasting love.  Thank You that while we were yet stuck in our own sinfulness, You loved.  Thank You that You touch us, even when we feel untouchable, and that there is never a time when You are not willing to be near.  Forgive us for neglecting to be Your hands and heart to the hurting in a tangible way, and help us to know how to touch those who feel alone and untouchable.  May Your light and love be evident in us, and may many come to know the freedom and acceptance that is always available in You alone.  May lives be changed and hearts be restored, as the lonely and isolated find way into community.  Be glorified as we gather, Lord God.  Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present.

Through Spirit Spoken

Yesterday, many gathered together to celebrate and remember our dear friend, Anne. I had been asked to speak the week prior, and on Wednesday evening, I at last sat down, determined to write out what I was to say on Saturday. My prayer was that He would provide words that honored Aine, and glorified Him. Though not in quite the same context as in the word, the following verse rang true: For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.” – (Luke 12:12)

What follows, are the words I spoke yesterday at the memorial.

AnneTenacity, strength, and unwavering faith are three of the things I loved most about Anne. Though I had only known her four or five years, Aine quickly became a dear friend. I am not certain whether it was her fiery Irish temperament, or her tenderness for the defenseless, that made it easy to understand and navigate a friendship that felt familial.

I don’t think I have ever met another human being who has had the tenaciousness that Aine had. To fight such an elusive opponent that continued to ravage her body with pain for more than nine long years, took a drive and determination that goes beyond human bounds. Most of us would have thrown in the towel long ago, and simply begged Jesus to take us home. Not Aine. She had faith that would fend off anything and everything that would try to tear her down. No weapon formed against her would ever prosper, and her hope included healing here on earth.

She wanted the healing to be her story – one of flawless faith, that ended in the miraculous.

Though her healing did not come how we had hoped, her story – her very existence and unwavering faith in her fight – was truly a testimony wherever she went. The first time I went to an appointment with Anne, was just before she was to begin chemo. Though she was scared, she was not about to let dear Dr. Linden see a lick of fear. She proudly professed her faith in the Father, and insisted that her healing would come.

One of the many things that I have learned from Aine, is that it is okay to ask for prayer. I so appreciated how Anne did not hesitate to ask for prayer, any time she felt she needed it. There was nothing shy about her, and she knew how very powerful prayer could be. Her boldness and bravery, taught me how to trust Him more.

I am astounded that someone like me, who repels all things medical, could be convinced that I was one of the very people that God had intended to walk beside her through the medical maze. Additionally, she had the uncanny ability to get me to step outside of myself, and do things I insisted I would never do. Even in her heavenly homecoming, here I am, right now, speaking to you, OUT LOUD, despite my fear of using my voice in this way.

In a most profound moment of prayer prior to her homecoming, I was blessed with a picture that not only brought comfort to me, but I was actually able to share it with Aine on the morning of her final day. With a hand on her foot as she rested, I closed my eyes to pray. I had come to a place where I simply sat, ready to listen, as my words seemed to be at a loss. What I saw were outstretched arms with a bright light shining behind Him. Soon, I saw a young, healthy, strong and carefree Anne, running to His extended arms. Jesus embraced Aine, and twirled her around as He held her close. When they stopped spinning, He held her tenderly as she rested her head over His heart. Hesitantly she looked in His eyes, and with a voice full of love, He told her each heartbeat she heard, was just for her. Once she was ready, He carefully set her feet back upon the ground, and took her hand in His. Together, hand-in-hand, they walked upon the streets of gold as He began to show her all that He had prepared, just for her.

Barely able to get the words out, God gave me the strength to share with Aine, what I had seen. She heard me, and gave my hand a squeeze.

All that day and into the evening, I was able to stay beside her and simply hold her hand. By eight or so, I found myself alone in the room with Aine. Her breathing became extremely labored, and I knew she was near her end. I squeezed her hand, and reminded her that it was okay, she could run to Him and she would be safe. Soon, Elka, the night nurse came in. As she attended to Anne, I stepped back and looked away, knowing she would want her dignity intact. Elka turned her on her side, then back again, and she was gone.

I am so thankful that gone does not mean the end, but rather it was only the beginning. Aine is now dancing on streets of gold, lavished in the love and light of the Lord. Though I will miss her terribly, I find great comfort in knowing that I will one day see Aine again. For now, there is sorrow, as a void resides where my sweet sister was held so dear. With time, I know that the sadness will fade, and wonderful memories will warm the now wounded places. Until that day when I see her again, I will hold fast to the very same hope that carried her to her heavenly home.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are so faithful to meet us in our moments of need, and provide the strength and courage that is needed to do all that You ask of us. Forgive us for our fear of failure, (as though we could do anything You ask in our own strength), and teach us to trust in Your unfailing faithfulness. Thank You that so many gathered to remember my sweet sister in You, and thank You that though her own sister was unable to travel from Ireland with her newborn baby, technology afforded her the opportunity to see and hear how deeply Anne had touched so many lives. Please be the comfort and strength of all who are mourning, and help each of us to hold fast the the hope of our own heavenly homecoming. May many come to know the comfort and care that You provide, and help each heart to hear how they too, may truly trust in You. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present.