This I Believe

Juliet - Columbia, Missouri
Entered on February 14, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65

This I Believe

I believe in touch.

Touch, an infant need.

A child’s first need, the alphabet of tenderness.

The touch of a mother’s hands,

a father’s hands.

Without touch, babies die, experts say.

Children of the world, we hear you, your begging bowl plea, come, put your hands here. Touch, and you will believe.

Touch, the signature human and divine.

Tenderness. Michelangelo paints the indelible truth on the ceiling of the Sistine chapel.

Children of the world, what we wish for you:

a loved one’s hands, blood-family and family who is not our blood, father, mother, brother, sister, caregivers, yes, we are obliged.

The touch of the beloved: parent, partner, children, grandchildren.

To love and to cherish . . . from this day forward, ‘til death do us part.

Touch = I love you, you are precious.

This I believe.

And touch = protection.

The child right to say, don’t touch,

a child’s alphabet of protection against harm.

Touch, what we wish for you, children, hungriest of this earth.

Indelible in each heart it is written:

I believe in touch.

This I believe.

She who said. He who needs.

They who ask us to listen:

If someone had just put their hands on my head when I was a child.

If someone had just put their hands here . . . here. I believe I would not have flown out of my body as a child. I believe I would not have lost my mind. This we believe.

My beloved, your touch that keeps saying safety, no matter the need, no matter that sleep comes slow and night is long.

I believe you.

Your touch, no matter . . . your hands around my shoulders, your lips at my ear saying, shh, shh, it’s ok, it’s ok, your hand on my cheek, my head in your arms. Your touch that says, when it comes again, oh dark night,

it’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright.

Put your hands here, the sacred books say.

In every signature, in every language, the tradition is passed down: Put your hands here, touch, and you will believe.

Recently, my daughter and I walked, at the beginning of a new year, among the Rodins

at the Brooklyn museum entrance. Auguste Rodin’s five bronze men, black, beautiful, caught in light, naked under a canopy of glass and New York City’s blue January sky: each breathtakingly, graphically beautiful. We were stopped in our tracks.

But one in particular, holding his head in his hands. We bend down to see his face. He is bent forward, stopped for a moment, forever, holding his head in his hands. How is it so, the burden and the beauty of being human? Humankind, vulnerable and protected.

In the beginning of a new year, wars and rumors of wars.

There is no path. The path is made by walking, Antonio Machado’s poem says.

We walk, then, among Annie Leibovitz’s photographs, joined by our mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, daughters, sons. We are touched. We touch.