She had spent Saturday night with me and was reluctant to see our time together end. I felt the same way.
“Sure!” I said. “Let’s just check with your mom and dad.” After getting permission, Isabelle and I got ready and headed toward the church.
“Can I stay with you the whole time?” she asked from the backseat.
I mentally reviewed my responsibilities for the morning: decorating the serving table for our brunch, baking mini quiches, sneaking into the in-progress service to hear the sermon, back to the kitchen to get all the food on the table…then teach upper elementary Sunday School. “Yep!” I said, smiling. “You can stay with me all the time.”
And she did. Helping straighten the doily under the centerpiece, placing the quiche on the baking sheet, hugging close to my side when we slid in the back door of the sanctuary, sitting in the front row of Sunday School. But the thing I loved best about having Isabelle with me was that, at every opportunity, she took hold of my hand. Whenever we were standing close together, I felt her slip her slim, soft hand into mine. It was unobtrusive, natural, spontaneous.
I’ve been thinking about that simple act all week and have come to this conclusion: Handholding is vastly underrated. What better says, “I am glad to be here next to you”? What better way to say, “You are special” — without even opening your mouth? It’s the most basic of touches. The first thing a baby learns is to grab hold of our fingers. We hold toddlers’ hands to keep them safe and, when first love comes calling, we hold hands to keep from floating away with happiness. Sometimes, at my church, we hold hands when we pray — a circle of intercession or celebration, unbroken, intimate.
And while the Bible doesn’t say much about Jesus holding hands, it says a great deal about his “touching” people. Blind people, sick people. People covered in leprous sores. Small rowdy children and humble Roman centurions. I can imagine Jesus good-naturedly slapping Peter on the shoulder, putting a loving arm around John, touching his mother’s face as a tear tracked its way down her cheek.
Songs and poems have been written about Jesus walking beside us or even carrying us. But this week, I’ve been imaging Jesus holding my hand. Lightly. No pressure. Palm to palm we’ve walked through my daily ups and downs. And even when my palm got sweaty, His never did.
I’m going to remember how good, how joyful Isabelle’s touch made me feel. And pass that joy on to others — one handful at a time