Chewing gum stuck to the shoe or under a chair once occupied a person’s mouth. And, the more that other pieces of gum congregate with it the more noxious it becomes. Like at the Pike Place Gum Wall in Seattle.
A used Kleenex blowing down the street on a windy day should only be touched with the edges of one’s fingernails, certainly not with the skin of the fingers. Who knows what was blown into the absorbent sheet.
Public bathrooms station trash cans near the door. No one wants to touch the door pulls with their hands, so they use a paper towel to avoid the swarming cooties.
Howie Mandell won’t shake your hand. A fist bump is the best you will get from him because of your germs. He’s not the only person concerned about germs. You can find a sanitizer dispenser at the local petting zoo, and bathroom signs warn employees to wash their hands before returning to work.
A glass with lipstick stains on it is quickly sent back to the kitchen of a restaurant even though it went through the dishwasher. The reminder that a person’s mouth was on the lip of the glass is repugnant.
A used band-aid embraced a wound and cradles infection in its gauze pad. A service club had an audible and loud “Ewwwww” when one of its members announced that he chewed on a band-aid found in his pizza at a local pizza joint. No one wants to even think about that.
Certain diseases send people scrambling for air that doesn’t contain the breath of the sick. A winter cough in a classroom or a business meeting makes all attendees wonder if they will be the next to start coughing and popping cough drops. “Why didn’t you stay home,” they all think but are too nice to say out loud.
Dog walkers often won’t pick up their pet’s ‘leavings” because the idea of bagging it seems too demeaning. The people who step in it are also disgusted by what sticks to their shoes and what they will have to do when they get home.
Sometimes people get treated like dirty Kleenex. Because of the way they smell or look or dress. Before his death, Sgt. Merlin German told his personal story of rejection and rude comments when people saw him in public, burned over 97% of his body because of his service as a Marine in Iraq.
A leper in ancient Israel got similar treatment. Ostracized, forced to call out “Unclean” as they walked near other people, they were constantly reminded that they were repugnant. Like gum stuck under a chair.
But Jesus actually touched such people as a way of showing his love and compassion toward them. No fist bumps. His life was fully open to the poor, sick, rejected, and alienated.
He demonstrated it in a simple touch.