About this time last year, I was returning from a vacation which had some nasty turns. I was hit by a train, wound up in a Prague ICU, was told I would not survive the night, and then woke up a week later with my life, but no sense of smell or taste.
This year, I stayed home for my vacation and avoided trains.
My dog Kai and I spooned a lot, and we watched episodes of the Vikings. It seemed safer.
People ask me, as a foodie and a man who loves to cook, what it is like to have no taste or smell. I have lots of responses, some of which include words a priest should not be heard saying. But here is one thing I have noticed – just as a blind person finds his or her hearing heightened, so my loss of two out of five senses has increased my sense of touch. And the most electrifying example of that is the distribution of the Eucharist. I have memorized how people’s palms feel on my finger tips when I distribute the wafers. I may not know everyone’s name or their life story (though I am trying and wish I did!) but I can look through the images in our church directory and tell you person, by person, what the skin on their palm feels like to the touch of the first three fingers on my right hand, when I place the wafer in their palm. The Body of Christ. The Body of Christ. The Body of Christ.
Intimacy comes in many forms. I wish I could have touched Jesus’ face.
Spooning my black lab while he pretends to sleep, touching a person’s hand with my finger tips, hugging a person who hugs like they mean it, touching an old lady’s cheek when she is weeping – these are the great human moments. I wish we touched each other more.