We Just Need a Touch…

As he finished saying this, a local official appeared, bowed politely, and said, “My daughter has just now died. If you come and touch her, she will live.” Jesus got up and went with him, his disciples following along.                                                                                                                                                                           Matthew 9:18-19 (The Message)

Harry Harlow was a renowned psychologist in the early 20th century. He is best known for his research with young rhesus monkeys and their attachments with their mothers. Harlow separated the young monkeys from their actual mothers, and began a series of experiments.

He had found that the young monkeys, when confronted with novel changes in their environment, or facing a fear producing situation, would immediately run to surrogate mothers, which were inanimate “look-alikes” of monkeys, covered in cloth and wool.  After the comfort gained from cuddling these surrogates, the young monkeys would once again venture to meet the changed environment in which they were placed. Harlow also found that the monkeys quickly were able to determine “their own surrogate mothers” from others that were made up slightly differently.

Then he determined to find out the priorities the monkeys would place on the surrogate mothers. In one variation of his famous experiments, he rigged up a “wire surrogate mother”, literally made of chicken wire and other materials, and he placed a bottle of milk with a nipple in the breast of the wire surrogate. He also placed in the vicinity, a surrogate that was made of wire, but covered in wool and cloth, and with no milk. He found that the baby rhesus monkeys preferred the comfort of the cloth and wool surrogates over the “mothers” who had milk.  

I began thinking of this old experiment as our COVID-19 experience, and its social distancing requirements, extends toward the one-year mark. The results of my personal experience are simply this.

I miss hugging my friends.

Prayer: Lord you have made us to connect with others in every way. We pray for a speedy resolution of this pandemic to once again be close to those whose presence we miss, Amen

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