The title of this collection of poems is drawn from the Gospel account of Jesus' healing a leper. The first century rules in Judah required the leper to shout his presence so everyone would avoid him. No matter how much they loved him, no one was to touch him. However, Jesus of Nazareth became the first human to touch him in perhaps twenty years! The touch came first. The healing followed. Humans need touch. And touch demonstrated living mercy.
Today we humans designate "lepers" for ourselves. We exclude people from our fellowship. We do it privately. We do it as communities.
With well-intended and well explained rules, we create the outcasts and pariahs. We divide ourselves into languages and nations. We cut lines on maps and invent countries. We set levels of society by wealth or fame or power or education or birth. Then, to assure division we invented race and sub-races and races within races so that someone will always have something to divide fellow humans from each other.
But biology teaches that we share a common origin. Such an origin shrieks that we have shared ancestors. Shared ancestry is the root of family. And family is what the human race, biologically, must come to understand about itself. However, to accept our race's brotherhood eclipses biology. It insists on a universal paternal source, a central Intelligence, a Creator.
Fundamental to Christian belief is Jesus' death as a ransom for humanity. The teaching that accompanied his sacrificial act included requirements for love. On the other hand, Jesus was not naive. He knew the best-intentioned love could not prevent our hurting each other, sometimes seriously. Forgiveness was, therefore, essential to love's maintenance.
While these poems are works of imagination, they explore realities as spectator and participant. They look through the leper's eyes and the healer's heart. They try to understand the feelings of those of us who live, for the most part, in the great in between, neither forgivers nor healers.
May the music of the verse help the reader find and strengthen something of the ideals resident in all of us.