It’s terrible having sticky fingers.
No, not the kind that pull what doesn’t belong to you
off the department store shelves.
I’m no thief.
I don’t steal stuff.
I feel stuff.
Or it’s smooth and supple,
nothing that can ruffle.
My fingers smile
as they tiptoe across.
with no hindrance,
into the secret garden, greenery
no one has ever bent before.
None have ever traced this path.
No one has made this journey,
of fingertips along the way.
“Here comes Sticky Fingers!”
I know they’re saying,
when they see me coming their way.
A solo treasure that’s all mine.
Not to keep, of course.
That would be stealing.
I’m no thief, you know.
Don’t take what’s not mine.
I leave it for the next sticky fingers.
Who I don’t know.
Sticky fingers don’t leave prints.
They take touch with them,
gently rubbing, tracing, mixing,
to the texture meant
to touch another.
Not so terrible, really.
The woman sitting near me is a mother. I know because she is carrying a child with beautiful dark eyes. The eyes are all I can see.
Tiny hands wrap around mother’s waist. Tiny toes spread as far as they can, brushing against each other in their suspension.
This gaze somehow haunts me. Burqa baby’s eyes don’t return my smile and her hands do not return my wave. I am the other. This mother is engrossed in her doings: screen, journal, computer. She doesn’t see me staring – or even snapping a photo. I hesitate and then, secretly, I reach over to touch these tiny pink toes. Just to offer a moment of touch.
Are we so engaged in our media, entranced by it’s siren song, that we carry our children like packages on our backs? Do we know we are denying them interaction with their world while we enjoy artificial interaction in our own?
I woke to the sound of whimpering turned to whining and then a generalized commotion. Silver, my decrepit and dementia -laden husky, had wandered in the wee hours and found himself trapped behind a chair. He was flailing, unsuccessfully, to free himself.
Upon seeing his predicament, I turned on the light, so he could see I was coming. Then I heaved the offending chair out of the way and lifted the anxious furry fellow out of his captivity. After helping him to his bed, I stroked his fur, until his breathing got easier and his face showed more contentment.
The stroking of fur. The breathing of calm. The touch of two souls in caress and comfort. How had I never seen this before? This place of prayer? So simple.
We don’t touch anymore. Or is it I who don’t touch anymore?
I set out into my day, dedicated to touching, physically touching, those who might receive me. But each sat behind his own computer, sat in rapt attention to her phone, traveled in his own world, speaking to no one or to the someone on the other side of those headphones. Even the man who paused to catch his breath was reluctant to receive my tentative tap. And I was afraid to offer it; we were strangers, after all.
Do not impose yourself. Don’t offend, surprise, overstep. Be cautious about touching; when it is unwanted, it is suspect or even abuse. Better to stand off than to stand near. Don’t crowd me. This is my space, not yours. Take your leave. I decide who I touch and who touches me.
What a neglected sense is touch, except in the most conceptual of ways: commercials that are “moving,” gifts we find “touching,” words that “get” us. But physical contact, the act of touch, has barely a place in our days.
Friends, as you go through your days today, if you touch someone, let it be prayer.