I started reading a book by John Trent titled The Blessing. In it, the author talks about the Biblical tradition of blessing, especially blessing one’s children, what it includes and what it means. Touch is definitely part of the picture, as you will see below
“Joseph said to his father, ‘They are my sons, whom God has given me in this place.’ And he said, ‘Please bring them to me, and I will bless them.’ Now the eyes of Israel were dim with age, so that he could not see. Then Joseph brought them near to him, and he kissed them and embraced them …”Genesis 48:9-10
In the New Testament, Jesus also blessed people with a meaningful touch:
“Then they brought little children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them. But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God …’ And He took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them.” Mark 10:13-14, 16
In our church this tradition continues in our practice of Holy Communion: children too young to receive come forward with their family during the distribution and receive a blessing from the Pastor, who places his hand on their head.
Not surprisingly, touching others — hugging, embracing, giving a pat on the back or the shoulder– is good for us. From lowering blood pressure and heart rate to increasing immune function and relieving pain, getting touched or doing some touching makes you healthier — not to mention happier and less anxious.
There are many people out there who are not being blessed in this way, but you and I can change that. It’s a simple way to bless someone. Give a hug, shake a hand, pat a back. It’s a blessing.