Recently, a woman visited my church who knew me in another context. She came because she was in great emotional pain, and she knew she was welcome in my church. When she came forward for Communion, I put my arm around her shoulders because she looked so worn out, and she leaned in to kiss me on the cheek.
She never kissed me before and hasn’t since, and no one else ever kissed me at Communion but it seemed appropriate considering her circumstances.
In the fall, when I left my son at college, I almost couldn’t bear it. I put my arms around him and kissed him on the cheek, even as my eyes began to leak. Since he was a baby, he has felt my furry face brush his cheek as I pressed my lips against him. When I left him I realized it had been too long since the last time I had kissed him. I decided right then to do it more often with both my sons.
Then I remembered the feel of my dad’s whiskers when he kissed me.
You know what I wish? I wish it were okay to give the people I most care about a kiss on the cheek, and I wish we didn’t have to wait until moments of parting or great pain.
In some cultures this is perfectly acceptable and I notice that Hollywood people kiss each other all the time, but I don’t live there. Around here, a guy doesn’t normally kiss another guy on the cheek, and he sure doesn’t kiss another man’s wife.
The woman who kissed me that day is not attracted to me, nor I her, but it was powerful and it made me tear up. For the life of me, I cannot put into words what exactly transpired in that moment of contact. Well, maybe I can: desperation, loneliness, gratitude, love,….
No, I can’t really find the words.