The gospels offer us a fascinating story about a bold woman in need of healing. She is so intent in her desire to be healed that she risks ridicule and misunderstanding. In the midst of a throng of people clamoring to be near Jesus, she pushes through the crowd wanting only to touch the hem of his garment and remain unseen. Just touching the tassel of his robe was enough for her. Jesus felt the power of healing go forth from him and asked that famous question, “Who touched me?” It was a strange question to be asking in a large crowd hemming him in on all sides and his disciples let that be known! Why did Jesus know that someone touched his hem? He felt the power flowing—moving through him—and out of him.
We, too, can experience this power flowing out of us and into us if we but open our eyes to all of life’s happenings. A gentle embrace is a power exchange. Taking someone who can no longer drive, for a journey into the country is touching the hem of God’s garment. Opening an orange for someone when their arthritic fingers will no longer allow them to do so is touching the hem of the garment.
The whole world is God’s garment. When I move through the beautiful outdoor world these days as I practice my FORTY EARLY MORNINGS ritual I am amazed at how (when I am attentive) the Power of the One who created it all, moves out of each flower, each tiny creature, even from the very ground upon which I walk. The secret of course is to live awake so that we can experience that gentle Christ-Power flowing out to us, then from us to others.
When I pause to really behold and even touch a tree it is like touching the hem of Jesus’ garment. Try it and, like the woman of the gospels, believe that some small healing is taking place in your soul.
Practice touching the hem of God’s garment this week. Be very conscious of how you hold things. Somewhere in his vast array of writings Thomas Merton suggests that the saints preach and teach by the way they sit or stand, by the way they pick things up and hold them in their hands. His words suggest reverence and total presence. Although this sounds easy it is difficult to achieve. Even so, it is worth the practice–it is a spiritual practice.
“The fast pace of our lives makes it difficult
for us to find grace in the present moment,
and when the simple gifts at our fingertips
cease to nourish us,
we have a tendency to crave the sensational.”
-A Tree full of Angels: seeing the holy in the ordinary
by Macrina Wiederkehr