Shunning the Handshake

In the church foyer, the man pumped my arm like a jack handle.

“Good grip, young man.”

As a teenager, I evaluated masculinity by clasping a respected man’s right hand. I felt his knobby fingers and callouses. I observed Sunday morning shoe polish on his knuckle. A handshake verified friendship. A shake lasted for mere seconds, but could express challenge, or warmth. Through his bear-paw grip or gentle clasp, a handshake might impart fortitude and manhood.

But my grandsons may never interview a veteran of life by way of a glove-free handshake anymore. Today, due to hygienic fears, this paternal courtesy is being nudged off the peak of civility—as are many others. Perhaps we should have seen the handwriting on the wall when impersonal finger snaps and high-fives invaded locker rooms and churches.

A chicken-wing greeting (bumping elbows), amounts to horse feathers to men who have experienced the bond that a firm handshake inspires. Has it taken a pandemic to awaken us to appreciating a simple thing like a handshake? Has it taken a pandemic to show us what “going without” means?

When the pandemic paralysis ends, some of our kids may never go back to public schools, after families discover how rewarding it is to teach them Christian values face-to-face. When government-enforced isolation ends, we may attend home groups and church meetings with more appreciation and regularity.

After our whiff of apocalypse ends (hopefully soon), our community may be unrecognizable compared to last year, because we are changed—driven to independence and creativity like never before.

It might be, that this primal, internal experience will awaken us to our blessings, and what it really means to live in a Christian nation.


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