Mothers Know Best: Skin Needs to be Touched

Mothers Know Best: Skin Needs to be Touched May 8, 2016

Black Touch

I was standing at a bus shelter waiting on the 15A bus that would take me into Dublin city center. The young couple next to me stepped out first when the bus arrived. It was then that I noticed that the young woman was blind.

I watched as the young man accompanying her escorted her onto the bus—allowing her to accomplish everything by herself and only stepping in if necessary. Once seated they clasped hands and exchanged tender affection.  I wrote a song, inspired by this encounter.

Fingertip Eyes . . 

Tender fingertips running along my lips

are your eyes straining to see,

The face you’ve never seen, not even in your dreams

for your fingertips are your eyes ..

My ‘Blind’ Summers

Prior to and throughout my college years, I spent many summers as a camp counselor at camps for visually impaired and blind youth; consequently I have developed a loving sensitivity to the blind and have learned so much from them—particularly their refined sensitivity to touch.

I recall one totally blind young man sharing with me how, just to stroke and flick through a glossy magazine, sent orgasmic shivers up his spine . .

And I used marvel at the careful touching that went on at mealtimes as the youngsters tested for texture and temperature of food when it was served to them.

Mothers Know Best

A few years ago Brenda Peterson authored a book of essays entitled, Nature and Other Mothers.  The first entry—In Praise of Skin—is a gem: At one point in her life she was afflicted by severe skin rashes. She had done the rounds of doctors but to no avail. Multiple medications proved ineffective—the rash always returned.

One day her grandmother assessed her and pronounced a more “intuitive” diagnosis: “Skin needs to be touched!”

Her grandmother then began to give her regular skin massages and these did what conventional/sophisticated medicines couldn’t do—they cured her.

We hunger to be touched!

Healing, light, love, compassion, energy, forgiveness, reverence, intimacy and tenderness, are communicated through touch. But what we often “miss” here, is that touch is a two-sided experience.

To touch anyone or anything provides a dual sensation; we feel what we are touching and feel the sensation of being touched. Try it: rub your thumb and index finger together and you will feel each finger feeling and being felt.

I tried it this morning while walking barefoot on the wet, dewy grass around my home: I became aware that I was in skin-to-skin contact with the earth. I felt my skin touching the earth and was “present” to the awareness that the earth (simultaneously) was receiving, experiencing and returning my touch—with reverential kindness.  And that, for me, was a prayer of blessing…

Sometimes when my kids are in a “cranky space” and start hitting each other, I hold up my hands and ask, “What are these?” They answer, “Hands.” I continue, “What are they for?” They pause—then recalling the last time we had this Q & A session—one may fumblingly respond, “For art, cooking, and making things.”  “Yes!” I invariably add, “and for always and only showing loving-kindness to those around us.”


A wise teacher once commented: you can only heal what you love, you can only love what you know, and you can only know what you touch.

It’s okay if we’re “touchy-feely” at times; we just need to be mindful of the extraordinary healing and loving energy our touch can communicate, and remember to extend this energy to the natural environment outside our door.

Above all, on this Mothers Day Sunday, let’s take a moment to honor the first person who introduced us to the wonder of “skin-to-skin” intimacy . . Thanks mom!

Cover Photo:

Read more on human relationships, parenting, holistice living, health and healing, life transitions . . in my debut book, Do It Anway: Deep Spirituality Meets Real life published last year by Patheso Press and available on Amazon!
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