Please God, let me stop talking about Diocesan Convention soon, I’m surely hemorrhaging readers. Amen. During the waning moments of Convention last weekend, there was a bit of a tense moment when a motion was made to table the meat of the We Dream Report (the Diocesan restructuring plan that I had a part in writing). I knew something like this would eventually be coming, and I had prepared myself. After five hours of reading Robert’s Rules of Order, I had found the loop hole I was looking for, and I got to raise the following Point of Order:
I make a point of order that “by adopting the motion to lay on the table [as it is properly called] a majority has the power to halt consideration of a question immediately without debate. Such action violates the rights of the minority and individual members of this body.” There is no more pressing business in this convention than the matter before us, and a motion to lay on the table at this point has the clear intent to kill this matter, which is declared out of order on page 210 of the 11th Edition of Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised, the text of which our own Rules of Order, Number 20, refers to for governance.”
My point of order was hotly debated by the person who made the original motion to lay on the table, and to be fair, killing the We Dream Report was not his intent, albeit it would have been the unintended result since our convention meets only annually. I’ll spare you the parliamentary details, but what you need to know is that typically I’m a very passive person. I don’t like to sit shotgun because I don’t like to choose the radio station for the car, but when it comes to matters of consequence; the things that are important to me, for example, enabling the proclamation of the Gospel, I’ll bow up in heart beat. And bow up I did.
The motion to lay on the table was ultimately ruled out of order, and as I took my seat, JKT, a lay delegate and friend from Saint Paul’s leaned over to me and said, “You’re shaking. I’m going to touch you for a little bit.” As he laid his hand on my shoulder, I could feel my blood pressure lower, the tension moving out of the pressure relief valve that he had opened. I have no idea how long his hand lay on my shoulder, but it was just what I needed.
I’m reminded of this event from last weekend because, for maybe the first time, I’ve noticed what Jesus did for his disciples when he noticed that they were “overcome by fear” at the sound of God’s voice. As Matthew relates the story, Jesus walked over to the group of three “and he touched them.”
Touch has great power, both for good and for ill. As I wrap up this week and try to turn my attention to preparations for the Lenten season that begins on Wednesday, I’m cognizant of the power of touch. The feeling of the grit of the ashes as their dragged across your forehead. The weight of the bread being placed in the palm of your hand. The coolness of the metal chalice as it touches your lips. The pressure relief valve that opens when people hug in the midst of crisis. Touch is often overlooked when the Church thinks of the senses: we focus most of our attention on sight and hearing, giving occasional thought to smells and tastes, and rarely, if ever, pondering touch, but touch is important, and in a culture that highlights the abuses of touch, maybe the Transfiguration is an opportunity for the Church to redeem touch for the good and holy thing that it is.