I have had seven Kindergarteners over the years, and all of them have brought home a project of some kind or another in which they are tasked to explore the five senses. We glue cotton or sandpaper to a piece of poster board; they taste a lemon and then a sugar cube, and we try to explain the difference; we talk about what it would be like if we couldn’t see or hear, and all of this reveals how amazing it is that God gave us these senses as a way of experiencing HIM and his great love. He didn’t have to make the world such a delectable experience. He loves us so much that he made creation full of color, and majesty, flavor, and overwhelming beauty. And Scripture tells us that creation exists to worship God: “The heavens declare the glory of God, the sky proclaims his handiwork” (Ps 19:1). In fact, Jesus tells us in Luke 19:40 that if we remain silent, “the rocks will cry out” in declaration of who he is.
Recently, as I reflected upon our five senses, I heard something that made me consider the profound gift of touch as it relates to motherhood—Jesus, the son of God who would touch the sick and the blind to heal them, first touched his mother as his human body formed in her womb. There is no other experience like that of touch, and touch cannot be accomplished without reciprocity. We can see creation, we can hear the beauty of a song, we can smell a glorious meal, and we can do all of that alone. But touch requires another; it requires relationship and reciprocity. A child cannot be conceived without touch, and as mothers we have the unique experience of knowing the touch of our child even before his lungs can expand and contract, even before he can experience the world. And in the moments directly after birth, the touch and feel of that precious body is so familiar to us because we have known it for ten months. Similarly, for those who have had the honor and privilege to adopt, it is touch that becomes the most healing, transformative gift of love as a mother bonds to her newly adopted child. And that child’s birth mother, by her very nature, provides a loving touch as she allows the baby to live until she selflessly gives him into the arms of another.
God provides this beautiful template in the very picture of our vocation. It is his great love that created woman to carry God’s son, and all of humanity, in her womb, and it is this love that calls us into relationship with the creator of the universe. We cannot imagine our lives as mothers without the ability to touch and hold our children. In the same way, God longs to touch our lives, to transform them with his love, but we must consent. We must allow him to draw us into himself; we must reach out our hands to the Father, and let him pick us up. We can then allow that touch to inspire our worship; we can worship him with our being (a being called to co-create), and we can join with creation and declare the goodness of a loving God.