This is a guest post written by Karen Bond. When she shared this with me earlier, I knew it had to go on the blog. Like Karen, I am one to touch things, even if it says “do not touch!” The other thing that struck me was how important a component doubt is as we discern and come to grow in faith. I hope you enjoy her words and imagery. And the reminder that we are an incarnate and tactile people.
I love when inspiration hits; a memory of something good; a phrase that sets my mind wandering and that happened in a wonderful way at today’s Mass.
Today was the Feast Day of St. Thomas the Apostle.
Thomas needed to see that Jesus had risen from the dead before he would believe it. It wasn’t because he didn’t trust his friends or Jesus’ word, but Thomas needed to touch him. How many of us does he represent?
When the priest described Thomas as touchy-feely and gave an example from his own life; of his three year old self touching a hot oven after his mother warned him not to, so many things in my mind came flooding to the front. We all have those moments.
This touchy-feely part of the sermon clicked and immediately I thought of my first trip to England and my visit to Warwick Castle.
I am a Doubting Thomas.
If you tell me the water’s too hot, I must put a finger under the tap.
I like to open cabinets and the drawers in the refrigerator, and in a museum, I am an absolute horror to bring along. If it doesn’t specifically say in big bold letters DO NOT TOUCH, it’s a safe bet that I will touch it. Granted, I have not ever climbed up onto a Revolutionary era cannon at The Smithsonian as I saw one young child do, but I have my other moments.
I’ve slid my fingers along the woven edges of medieval tapestries at The Cloisters.
If I’m in an art museum with a roped off masterpiece, I must run a finger along the velvet rope that keeps me from the painting itself.
I’ve touched the fire truck at The State Museum.
When I was visiting my close friends, often a touch on my shoulder relieved any anxiety that had been rising, a hand grabbed and squeezed in friendship elicited a smile, fingers brushing as a cup of tea was passed was a small hug.
Most recently In Wales, the only thing that kept me from rocking and weeping during the flight was my hand on my pocket frog, the cool Lucite against my palm, my thumb rubbing the same spot over and over again. I also liked to rest my hand against the cold stone of thousands years old castles and brickworks and abbey walls.
Touch is the most soothing thing when it’s wanted or when you least expect that you wanted it. I feel this at daily mass every day during the peace part of Mass. I’m a little lost when there is no one around me to shake my hand. That simple touch sets my whole day on a positive note.¬
In Warwick, though, we were able to take a tour of the castle, and we eventually came to a room with a large, stunning chest. We were told that this tower (known as the Ghost Tower) was known to have the ghost of Sir Faulk Greville who was murdered by his servant, and we should listen for it. I think we all chuckled nervously.
The chest was next to a locked door and yes, I turned the old knob. The door didn’t budge in case you were wondering.
As the tour group was heading into the next room, I touched the top of the carved chest. I looked around and tried to lift the lid.
It opened quite easily. I was just about to peek inside when a voice began to speak.
I jumped at least ten feet, dropping the lid that fell noisily into its original closed place. I looked around the empty room and ran out after the tour group as fast as I could catch up.
When I met up with them, I realized that it was the tour guide on the other side of the door speaking at the exact moment I lifted the lid. Not quite the ghost I had just started believing in.
Touchy-feely is one of the more adventurous and a most beautiful part of human nature.