There’s a grandmother sofa in my living room. Its curvature and form accompany a wingback chair and memories least forgotten. Grandmother sofas always invite company to sit down and pay a proper visit, a social call outlined by accepted graces and flower print dresses emitting a whiff of aged eau de toilette.
Grandmother sofas and living rooms constrain a child by expressing a “look but don’t touch” rule. And so confined, looking and not touching is a guideline guaranteeing an eventual squirm and twitch signaling a desire to leave the room. And leaving is something I squirmed and twitched to achieve when so confined. Risking Mother’s look of disapproval was worth it.
One day, when I was just a youngster, our preacher came calling on Mother and all I remember were two determined voices unwilling to give in from the living room. Total recall escapes me, but I imagine it had something to do with processing and recessing in church. I could have told this preacher Mother was uncompromising, something I knew intimately. But I had more fun chuckling as he found out for himself.
Living rooms are outdated. Preachers don’t make house calls so much anymore and neighbors don’t stop by for a settee. Text messages, emails and phone calls have supplanted those old face to face visits. Calling on your neighbor passed from history like pay phones and hand-churned peach ice cream.
Remembering a time I squirmed out of confinement, I moseyed my way to the couch in our den. Den rules were more relaxed, and the couch offered comfort and substantive relief. This meant I could sprawl and touch without serious repercussion. It seemed real to me. I didn’t care about processing and recessing. In the den, I could crash after a hard day playing football behind Ronnie Dempsey’s house. A person can live in a den and die in a living room.
Reality is a fine teacher. Jesus lived in reality and this means he touched people. Thinking about this makes faith tangible. Touching, after all, conveys meaning to existence, surrenders form to substance.
I’m told there exists a letter, considered fictitious, written by Publius Lentulus, also considered fictitious, who was Governor of Judea. This letter describes Jesus in physical form. But the description and fiction are beside the point.
The letter begins, “There lives, at this time, in Judea, a man of singular virtue whose name is Jesus Christ, whom the barbarians esteem as a prophet, but his followers love and adore him as the offspring of the immortal God. He calls back the dead from the graves and heals all sorts of diseases with a word or a touch.” Seems real to me.
I’m old enough to care about processing and recessing, and the good news is, I don’t. I don’t care much about sofas and living rooms either. You can’t touch in a living room. But I do occasion a couch, often.
“And the whole multitude sought to touch Him, for power went out from Him and healed them all” (Luke 6:19, NKJV).
And doesn’t He touch us?