“When they placed their threshold by my threshold and their doorposts beside my doorposts, with only a wall between me and them, they were defiling my holy name by their abominations that they committed; therefore I have consumed them in my anger.” – Ezekiel 43:8 (NRSV)
At every story time at my local library, Miss Karen the Librarian goes around and asks each toddler if she can touch them. If they say yes, she says, “That’s a yes!”, tickles the top of their head and says, “Mason is thinking smart today!” If they say anything other than yes, she says, “That’s not a yes; no touching!” Then she tickles the air a few inches above their heads and says, “Lily is thinking smart today!”
The kings of Israel could have used better children’s librarians when they were li’l princes. Some of them grew up and, trying to get a little of what God had, built their tombs touching the Temple in Jerusalem—God’s house on earth—without her consent. Miss Karen would have been horrified. So was God, who told Ezekiel that this had gotten those kings vaporized.
Everybody knows how holy touch can be, the frisson that happens when your atoms and mine get close enough to conduct electricity. But honestly, some days it’s easier to love you from over here. Other days I’m the one best appreciated from a distance. And if we’re not both into sharing electrons on a given day, then the distance we maintain between us is every bit as holy as a hug. And on one of those days, coming up and touching me, or my kid, or anybody, without their permission? According to God and Miss Karen the Librarian, that’s a vaporizable offense.
You gave us these bodies, O God. You made it feel so good to touch them together. Work on us until keeping them apart when necessary feels just as good. Amen.
Quinn G. Caldwell is a father, husband, homesteader and preacher living in rural upstate New York. His most recent book is a series of daily reflections for Advent and Christmas called All I Really Want: Readings for a Modern Christmas. Learn more about it and find him on Facebook at Quinn G. Caldwell.