When Touch Is No Blessing
“And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.” – Mark 10:16
Content Warning for Sexual Assault
But who will get the candles, we finally remembered to ask.
We’d created the graphics, come up with language to share that began and repeated: we believe.
We believe sexual assault is a non-partisan issue.
We believe sexual assault is a criminal act.
We believe there is no statute of limitation for trauma.
We believe that speaking out is an act of courage.
We believe that victim shaming is wrong.
We believe that survivors come from all walks of life.
We believe assailants come from all walks of life, they wrote.
The candlelight vigil was to precede what would surely add to the survivor’s enormous trauma as she came forward even more publicly with her story. If there was nothing else we could do, we could share that we believed her, we could say something under candlelight.
Jesus blessed the little children, took them up in his arms and laid hands on them. His touch was a blessing, signifying God’s connection and care and everlasting love. Jesus’s touch was safe for these children.
For so many of the rest of us, touch has not been so safe.
But here’s what I would say.
I believe the truth your body tells.
I believe what you are too afraid or ashamed to share.
I believe you deserve to be whole.
I believe that God intends you to be well.
I believe that Jesus’ touch was never meant to authorize nonconsensual touch.
I believe that you deserve to give and receive loving touch that does no harm.
We forgot the candles for our candlelight vigil. Until we remembered: Their survival is light enough for us.
Loving God, we believe in the power of your love. May the touch we receive from this day forth only be of the kind that blesses. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Kaji Douša is the Senior Pastor of The Park Avenue Christian Church, a congregation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ, in New York City.