April 06, 2006
The Intersection of Healing and Reconciliation is Touch
As my choices have directed me to walk the seemingly parallel paths of mediation and massage, I am beginning to discover why I have chosen these two vocations and how they apparently relate to one another.
A helpful piece of this puzzle was placed the other day when I received my weekly installment of PeaceMeal: Food for thought on Biblical Peacemaking — a ministry based on Ken Sande's book The Peacemaker.
In it, the newsletter author chooses as a central to this week's newsletter, Genesis 33:4: "But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept."
Each issue begins with a quote from The Peacemaker and this week, part of this quote is that "God does not intend for people to relate to one another at a distance or through other people. Genuine relationship involves personal communication." Sande also refers to Exodus 33:11, "The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend. (see also 2 John 12)."
In mediation, when I contact a party, my first goal is to encourage or coach the person to talk to the other party in the dispute face to face. In fact, we learn in training that a good indicator for mediation is when face-to-face communication has failed — spectacularly. At that point, if both parties agree, a neutral 3rd party mediator can actually render a good service by "merely" facilitating a face-to-face conversation between two or more disputing parties.
But further into this issue of PeaceMeal, the author asks the question "Do you relate more face-to-face or screen-to-screen?" The author continues by noting the abudance of "connectedness" in this day in age but challenges the nature of this connectedness (especially technology) that connects us at a distance—and keep us there. The author does not blame the tools, but keeps the blame appropriately with us and our preference of "distance to closeness, and darkness over the light" — and of course our love to be "in style". ;-) Through and because of our gadgets and access to technology we actually believe that we are connected to one another. But what Sande warns is that the ideal relationship is face to face and this connection at a distance is far from fufilling. As a matter of fact, connection primarily via technology catalyzes quite an ironic effect: I, and perhaps "we", feel lonelier than ever. Noting Luke 15:17, the question is posed that perhaps we need to come back to our senses like the prodigal son, as he returned to his father and actually felt his embrace.
It was this emphasis on touch that made me realize that the intersection of healing and reconciliation is touch. These paths I have chosen in mediation and massage are not parallel, they intersect, weaving in and out of each other's paths because of how they espouse and nurture healing, peace, restoration, however differently from one another—one in body, the other in relationship—but both dealing essentially with the soul. Both addressing the problem of disconnectedness, of brokenness, of pain. Both trying to rectify these problems with peacemaking and healing. (Whether through lavender or laughter, the goal is the same: peace and healing.)
So what does "face to face" have to do with touch? Because only by being face to face does the opportunity for healing touch exist. No amount of typing colon, hypen, and right-paren combinations :-) can replace the sensation of healing touch.
If you "continue reading" I've included the whole of the newsletter and you can read it for yourself. I encourage you to subscribe to the newsletter as well. I've been a subscriber for a couple of months now and they have been consistently good and definitely, as advertised, "food for thought."
(The following is taken from the e-newsletter PeaceMeal.)
Senses and Sensibility
"But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept."
God does not intend for people to relate to one another at a distance or though other people. Genuine relationship involves personal communication. As Exodus 33:11 says, "The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend" (see also 2 John 12). If this is the idea for a true friendship, it is also the ideal for a relationship that has been broken by conflict and needs to be restored. Although other people can sometimes help get the restoration process started, its ultimate goal should usually be a personal, face-to-face meeting between those who have been estranged, so they can express and confirm repentance, confession, and forgiveness and experience together the grace and reconciliation of God.
Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 148.
Food for Thought
Do you relate more face-to-face or screen-to-screen? Why?
We live in a time of connectedness. We are connected via e-mail, the Internet, our cell phones, Blackberries, and iPods. And those are just the avenues that readily come to mind. Being connected now ranks among the necessities of life, alongside food and shelter. But for all the beneficial ways (and there are many) that these technologies connect us, they connect us at a distance. And we find ourselves in a far country.
As Ken reminds us, the ideal for a friendship or relationship of any kind, is speaking face to face; God does not intend for people to relate primarily by way of distance. Notice the physical beauty inherent in Genesis 33.4. Jacob receives an embrace; have you ever felt the warmth of a hug from your iPod? Esau throws his arms around Jacob's neck; it's a little hard to feel the rough, hairy arms of your brother by way of a cell phone. Esau kisses Jacob; ask anyone in love if they would rather have the tactile sensations of a kiss or an e-mail full of emoticons. And then the two brothers weep; the Internet can raise the level of information in our heads, but can it cause our defenses to fall, so that tears spill from our hearts?
It's easy to blame these tools, as if they are the problem. No, the problem is where it has always been--with us. We prefer distance to closeness, and darkness over the light. These tools just help us do it in style. We stride through life, gadgets in our pockets, patting ourselves on the backs, believing we're really connected. But a close look at the eyes reveals our souls; we're lonely and wonder why. Maybe we all need one of those prodigal moments--"when he came to his senses" (Luke 15.17). True sense, as God intended, will return to us via our senses. It means being hungry enough to feel the pains in your stomach, or maybe your heart. It means feeling the burn in your legs as you run toward home or maybe the hurt from that broken relationship. It means feeling the embrace of the one you've been estranged from; an embrace that just might squeeze the tears out of you. That kind of closeness brings life out of death; it allows you to be found instead of lost. And that story always ends with fattened calves, rings on fingers, and parties hosted by the Father; none of which can be enjoyed from a distance.
PeaceMeal is a publication of Peacemaker® Ministries. Copyright 2006. Reprinted with permission. To sign up for this free weekly email publication, go to the Peacemaker Ministries website at www.Peacemaker.net.