The Gloves Are Off
It was a beautiful sparkling day as I walked into the clinic. One of the technicians quickly greeted me and gave me a hug. We’ve gotten to know one another over the years and enjoy catching up on each other’s lives during my regular visits. We chat and laugh easily while doing my weigh in and checking vitals. She jots figures in my chart then pulls a couple latex gloves from a box on the wall, tugs them onto her hands and gives the top edges a satisfying snap.
Suddenly I feel as if my chair has slid across the room to the opposite wall. I’m untouchable. For some invisible reason, precautions must be taken and barriers have been erected. Neither of us speaks while she pricks my finger, creating the small bead of blood required for the test. After a quick daub with gauze and a little bandage taped in place, my friend peels off the gloves and shoots them into the trashcan like rubber bands. We joke that she’s had a lot of practice on that shot. Our pre-glove chatter resumes as I follow her into the next room.
Later in the day, I’m still haunted by that momentary feeling of alienation. The simple act of pulling on gloves made me feel rejected, distanced and isolated. While I rationally understand the precaution required, it evokes an emotional response. A friend had shielded herself from me. She’d taken preventative measures before touching me (although she’d hugged me in the lobby). The mixed message causes me to feel suspicious and distrustful, emotions I have to squelch by reminding myself of the professional legalities involved.
But the feeling is undeniable and as I muse on it, I begin to think of Jesus. (Okay, you knew it was coming…) What an amazing thing is was to have Jesus walking this earth among us. Born as a human infant. Does it get any messier or more personal than that? He was an unsteady toddler, an exploring child, and a gangly teen. All stages with their quota of bumps, bruises and scrapes, undoubtedly treated, bandaged and kissed by his mother. That reassuring care and human touch is evident in his ministry as he reached out to heal those around him. Nobody was untouchable. Even those, who for all rational purposes, should have been.
Now I’m not advocating unreasonable contact with communicable diseases, although I admit to having great admiration for missionaries who live with quarantined populations and eventually succumb to the same disease. I can think of no greater demonstration of love than to be willing to die alongside our fellow brothers and sisters. And isn’t that exactly what Jesus did? Emmanuel. God with us. Here on this earth, mucking it up with the average Joe, experiencing our frailties, touching our diseases, mingling his blood, sweat and tears with ours. No precautions. No alienation. No gloves.
Small wonder the masses were attracted to him. Nothing repelled him. Nothing caused him to draw back from them or avoid them. To the contrary. He was moved by their pain and reached out to touch, hold and heal. He embodied God’s willingness to gather us into his heart regardless of our human condition.
The gloves are still off today. And that is very Good News for you and me.
– Sue Berger
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© 2011 One Pilgrim's Musings