I was in Target yesterday morning, when it happened.

Standing there in the toy aisle, I was lost in the deliberation between the B. You Vet Clinic set, and the B. You. Water Tablet. I have a shower this afternoon to welcome a newly adopted little girl into our office family, so I was busy thinking about what she might like. There was a young mom, and her own little girl, on the aisle, too. I was so involved in looking at the toys, I hadn’t noticed the little girl had climbed onto the end of my cart until her mom caught her there.

“Olivia! Get down off that cart right now!! Oh, I’m SO sorry about this! Really, she is SO sorry to have disturbed your cart, and we’re going to move away, now, so it won’t happen again.”

Oh, it’s really not a big deal. Truly. I have a little granddaughter about her age, and…

“Olivia, this is THIS LADY’S CART! You DON’T TOUCH OTHER PEOPLE’S CARTS! Or their things! Or THEM! You don’t touch other people! Do you understand??”

With wimpers, poor little Olivia nodded her head, and, after she was plopped in the buggy, off they went.

I thought about Olivia through the rest of the store, and how I knew she would grow up to be one of the young people that I encounter, all the time, who don’t know how to properly shake hands. She’d probably be one of the ones who, when hugged, momentarily turns into a stiff 2×4 because, are you supposed to hug? Is that really respectful of the sacrosanct personal space?

pope2Interestingly, later in the afternoon, I read about Pope Francis, and the man with neurofibromatosis, who approached him for prayer after his regular Wednesday address to the pilgrims in St. Peter’s square. Severely disfigured from the rampant growth of tumors, this man’s looks define his personal space for him. I doubt there are many people trying to breach it, or trying to hug him, or hold his hand.

But Pope Francis didn’t waste a moment before laying his hands on the man.

The man needed prayer, yes. But I’d be willing to bet that, just as much, he needed the comfort of human touch.pope11

Certainly, we need to be respectful of one another. But I believe that, deep down inside, many of us are just as hungry for that same comfort. I see it in the sudden tears I get, sometimes, when I’m counseling with a young, scared woman, and I reach out to hold her hand. I notice it when a simple hug is returned with an unexpected intensity. We need each other. Not just through 140 characters in a Tweet, or a Facebook message…not through a blog post, or even a phone call or Skype. All those are great ways to stay connected, but when it comes right down to it, we need each other in person. Love running straight from our hearts, through our hands, to touch another with the warmth and love of a Savior.

Hopefully, Olivia will figure that out sooner than later. Maybe it will come when someone reaches out and gives her mom a big hug, leaving the fingerprints of True Comfort on her heart.


All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 MSG

When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.” Psalm 94:19 NLT