The Importance of Touch – shared by Elizabeth and found on my reader, so I am now a subscriber as well :). This reminds me of another thread at 4real — which I googled for and cannot find right now — about the importance of continuing to give our children the gift of touch.

It warms my heart so when I see dh hugging the kids, so I encourage him to do it and do it often. I myself who grew up in a more touchy-feely household, still have to remind myself to touch the kids several times a day, everyday. This is why quiet times are so important and should not be given up for the day’s chores or other “responsibilities”.

That moment in the morning when the kids are still warm from their beds is a chance to cuddle and get a few minutes of energizing love before we move on to the day’s activities. It doesn’t happen daily though. And would that I had 4 arms instead of the two. What’s funny (and frustrating) is how the kids often wrangle for the space closest to my heart — a very limited space in terms of square inches. Sometimes we take turns, sometimes we have to convince the older child to give way. Which is why it’s doubly essential to take the very next opportunity to hug that older child close, when they don’t have to compete with a younger sibling.

Quiet time in the afternoon, when people are sated by lunch and starting to get sleepy is another such chance to get close. A read aloud at this time is such a welcome treat, not just for the little ears (and by little I mean even up to the pre-teen, and sometimes even the teen) but for Mom too — it’s about this time I’m needing a break. But for some unexplained reason I don’t get sleepy as quickly as when I have two kids in the crooks of my arm and a book in my hands. I usually have enough energy to read a good-sized picture book, or a favorite Beatrix Potter, or one or two chapters of a longer book. And fifteen minutes of power-napping is PLENTY for me.

Then there’s the evening prayer. We haven’t yet graduated to kneeling, as the kids find this time very convenient for getting lengthy hugs from Dad and Mom. We sit on the couches praying our Rosary together, two kids per parent. We have to be careful with posture or we’ll be nodding off before the Rosary is over: another good reason to start early. We switch the kids around; planned or unplanned, it works. It has also made a difference in our overall disposition — we may have had some bad moments late afternoon when everyone is starting to get tired and gotten cranky and snippy, so the family Rosary brings us all back in and into a warm, loving mood. It’s very hard to stay angry at each other when one’s hugging the other. 🙂

I’ve also got a theory about touch — and why it’s so important that we continue giving our older kids this empowering gift, all the time. Besides touch refreshing one’s spirit short-term, it is such a deep, emphatic need that is so basic to our well-being… one that if not fulfilled at home, will have to be fulfilled elsewhere. Failing to touch our children, especially at the times when they need it most, is equivalent to pushing them away, into the company of others who are more than willing to provide that connection. If those others are well-meaning, mature loved ones (like doting grandparents, say) — then we are lucky. What if we’re not? I believe that some of our teens fall into sin, knowingly or unknowingly, because there is a need that is not being fulfilled at home. The sad part is that there are, indeed, predators just waiting to exploit this need. Or a sympathetic soul who has the same unmet longing.

I wonder how many teens could be saved from bad choices if we would only take the time to hug them today and everyday.

Continuing to read the Book of Numbers:

The Lord bless you and keep you:
The Lord make His face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you:
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.
– Numbers 6:24-27

One of my favorite Bible passages, I remember using it on occasion to end my letters, many years ago when we first came to the US and there was no e-mail to stay in touch with old friends. I used to wonder why I sometimes would hear it at the end of Mass, and sometimes not. It turns out the Roman Missal includes it as one of the optional blessings Father can use (explanation from the Navarre Bible Commentary).

Another one from Numbers and Navarre, which is meaningful to me right now as I continue to learn and understand the beauties of Traditional Mass: Chapter 7, which details the tribes’ offerings to the Lord: Navarre’s explanation:

Once the Israelites settle down in Canaan they will always look back to their ancestors, in order to imitate them; in this particular case, to emulate their generosity in divine worship and the refinement with which they brought their offerings to the Lord in the temple.

An ex-co-worker used to needle me about the Catholics’ “wealthy Churches”. He hasn’t seen our minuscule Filipino churches filled with faithful people, mostly poor ones who probably don’t eat in one day what he ate in one meal. Dh’s father had one built in Bicol, partially from funds dh sent him when he started working here in the US. It’s probably as small as our living room and dining room combined. But that they offer Mass at that Church — actually more like chapel — the same Mass that we offer all over the world… is awesome to me.

On the one hand, it’s not the building or its accoutrements that are most important here, but how our hearts are disposed to receive Him. On the other hand, when we have the means to make a bigger offering — why not? Everything belongs to the Lord after all. We are called to give Him back the BEST of what He has given us. And less to the point, but still…. we Catholics don’t have the corner on beautiful, magnificent churches. There is a temple near us (I don’t know if it’s Islamic, Jewish, or what) that is gilded with GOLD on the outside features and roof. So far I haven’t met anyone who has complained about it being too gaudy or wasteful — adjectives I’ve heard used to describe our Catholic churches 🙁 .

About the menorah — I *love* finding explanations like this, of Jewish customs and traditions, in my very Catholic Bible!

The lampstand or menorah was a rich golden artifact placed beside the table of the offertory bread. [snip]… it was obviously a very important feature of divine worship, given that the lamps had to be kept burning all the time. The fact that the arms were seven in number indicates completeness. (note to self: I need to learn more about that 7=completeness thing) [snip] Rabanus Maurus says that “the seven lamps are the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, which abide forever in the Lord, our Redeemer, and in his members, that is, in all those chosen in keeping with his will”.

Though I haven’t seen it recommended, I think it’s nicely coincidental/providential that I should be reading the Book of Number during Lent, when we’re supposed to be in a spiritual desert…. the Book of Numbers, of course, is about the Israelites’ time in the desert. Its name comes from the Greek translation of the Pentateuch (the first 5 books) which called it aritmoi: numbers. (Hey, arithmetic!) The Jewish name for the book is Bemidbar — “in the desert”.