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"He Touched Me"

On the door, in big red letters was the warning "Infectious disease precautions." In smaller letters the words, "wear gloves and a mask." Acquired Immune deficiency syndrome was just beginning to make the headlines. Before then, Aids were people who helped teachers, not a disease.

Inside, I saw an effeminate man with sores all over his shriveled body. His eyes were half glazed. He habitually licked his lips, and spoke with a soft, cracking voice.

I was surprised at how much I liked him. Though I didn't know much about AIDS, I knew that of the three common ways to contract it, two are immoral. I never asked Monty how he got it. The question seemed inappropriate and irrelevant.

He complained about the sores in his mouth and the pain--it was with him constantly. He knew he would die sooner or later, and preferred it to be sooner.

I read scripture, prayed for him and gave him my card. As I was leaving, I bent down and kissed him on his forehead and assured him of my continued prayer.

Why did I kiss his forehead? I've never kissed a patient before or since, but at the time I acted instinctively. In retrospect, I think it was in response to that sign on the door. It was my way of acknowledging his humanity.

I never spoke to him again. A month later, his parents sent me a note. They found my card in his belongings after he died and they wrote to thank me for ministering to him.

Last week, I thought about this event as I entered another hospital room with a warning sign on the door. This time I walked into the room with my suitcase in hand. I was about to drink radioactive iodine as treatment for papillary cancer, which would result in my isolation for one week.

This morning, for the first time since the treatment, my wife gave me a big hug as I left for work. I felt human again. I wonder what the Leper felt like when Jesus reached out his hand and touched him?


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365 Days includes Volumes 1-4
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