A moment for the tangible
Tangible: Perceptible by touch.
I have to admit, though the thoughts in my head are plentiful, I have found putting them into words very difficult lately. Hoping for some kind of clarity or inspiration, I have spent a great deal of time in scripture and prayer and still, radio silence.
What am I longing to have? It hit me this morning. I am longing for something tangible, perhaps in the form of clear answers or a visible sign. Maybe that is what you are longing for too.
Toilet paper is tangible. Perhaps the borderline crazy paper product purchases are signs that others are also seeking something tangible.
Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:24-29
I’ve heard and read this story so many times it has almost become cliche. And yet, it comes to mind again, as a powerful message of Christ’s compassion amid fear and doubt, and his desire to offer tangible evidence to a fearful group.
In the passage before Christ appears to Thomas, the disciples have hidden away, with the doors locked, for fear of the Jewish leaders. We, similarly, are hidden away confined to our homes, keeping the outside world out, keeping to ourselves, and perhaps somewhat fearfully.
Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you. John 20:19-21
Peace may not be, by definition, tangible, but I can certainly feel it as I read this scripture. I can close my eyes and sense the change in the room where the disciples were. I then can feel the essence of the place I am in altered.
If we again back up in the scriptures, we will be with Mary, who, upon seeing Christ did not recognize him until he called her name. Then there was no holding her back.
Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” John 20:18
The visible Christ may not visit us as he did those whose stories are told in the scriptures, but we can be the tangible Christ to others. In this time, when leaving our homes poses a threat to ourselves and others, we can still reach out in tangible and safe ways.
We can make the phone call to someone we haven’t talked with in a while.
We can dust off that stationary that has been sitting idle and send a tangible note of care and concern.
We can take a few groceries and drop them off on the doorstep of someone we know could use them.
We may not be able to touch the hands of our neighbors, but we can still touch their hearts with compassion and peace.