He has suggested when we ask ourselves who means the most to us, it is often those who, instead of offering advice or solutions or cures, chose to share our pain and touch our wounds with gentle and tender hands. If this be the case, then there are several who have surely grown to mean a great deal to me. I am a fortunate man.
The hands of which Nouwen wrote can be interpreted quite literally or far more symbolically - just as the wounds can be either physical or emotional, and the moments represented by this gentle and tender touch are exceedingly special - especially if at the same time I can similarly touch in return.
Although I can identify most of my wounds, that knowledge is far from complete. At the same time, I believe that most of them have healed - although not without scars. Yes - I did manage to tend to a few myself, but a loving wife has touched and continues to touch others. I have been favored with a physical therapist who is also teacher and guide, and her wondrous touch has been with me for over twenty years. And grace, however defined, brought to me one or two special friends with remarkable understanding. All have touched me gently and tenderly, and I cannot imagine my present health and happiness without them. They do, indeed, mean a great deal to me.
As our respective Journeys along life's river unfold, it is my fervent desire that you, Dear Reader, will also encounter those with this special touch, and I hope I can nourish the "touching" relationships I have been given. Navigating successfully the full length of the river will likely depend on constructing a map from all of the pieces we each gain in those moments, and on this Journey we should never be alone.