Touch Suffering with Bare Hands

Wednesday, July 2

7-2By Katie Harmon-McLaughlin of Wickliffe, Ohio, USA

Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

—Luke 6:36 NRSV

Peacemaking includes advocacy, spiritual formation, discussion, political will, programs, and planning. Yet it can be simple and earthy.

We know Mother Teresa, not because of her tributes as a religious scholar or political figure, but by the raw, human act of flesh touching flesh. We picture her holding in her arms the dying and giving them new life, worth, and purpose in their final breaths. We have raised her to a status she never sought for doing something any of us could do—reaching out to touch the suffering with our bare hands.

And so we reach out.

To stock our community pantry, we drove around in a van, picking up barely expired food from grocery stores. It is a mundane task. My husband did this every Monday morning. We hauled heavy carts and separated food into boxes—chicken, vegetables, crackers, bread, anything that no longer can live on the shelf.

Yet, in seeing, in touching, in transporting this food that would feed neighbors in need, we touched suffering. With this act, we calm anxiety in the hearts of mothers and fathers desperate to care for their families.

I feel the importance of that act. The textures, colors, smells, and sounds—all are tangible forms of peace. Peace that we can live and that will sustain and provide energy and life for those in need.

The substance, the fabric of our lives, when shared, has a spiritual meaning, as well. The pots and pans, the clothes and shoes, the food that people continually bring to the church to share, hold meaning for the recipients.

They mean someone cares. The Free-4-All community pantry is another example of tangible peace. It is peace we can feel and see. It has rough and smooth edges and a smell, maybe even a taste. It is a meal cooked in a pan shared out of love, compassion, and mercy as we experience the mission of Christ.

Prayer for Peace
Merciful God, let us be the kind hands of Jesus, touching life right in the middle of its roughness. May justice guide our charity to become a way of life.

Spiritual Practice: Hand Ministry
Place your hand on a piece of paper and trace around it to create an outline. Add details of fingernails, wrinkles, or skin color if desired. Look at your hand and meditate on what you do with your hands each day. Ask God to direct your thoughts to a person in need of blessing, kindness, or healing touch. Pray for wisdom about the specific act needed by this person and discern how and when you will use your hands to complete this ministry.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will look beyond the uncomfortable realities of poverty and do what needs doing.

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1 Comment

  1. Ramona Seeley

     /  16 July 2014

    I was working in India at a school in Madras while Mother Teresa was still alive. I didn’t get to meet her bur one of her assistants and listened to her stories. Thank you for the work that you do.

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