Our family cat, Jack, is a Cling-on. No, not a Klingon from the late great TV show, “Star Trek”, but a clingy critter that will assume the most uncomfortable positions imaginable in order to get in a few snuggles. Whether it’s lying on the edge of the bed so he can nudge up to my chest or clawing into the arms of a high back chair for a chance to lean on my arms, Jack will assume the most precarious positions possible just to hang out with a human.
It’s an endearing quality. Our chubby little Cling-on likes the company of people and happily lies in close contact once he’s figured out that no, I will not pet his head indefinitely. And it’s rather cute when I’m on my side facing the edge of the bed and he finds just enough room in front of my tummy to squeeze in and hang out, even if it means precariously close to him tumbling down to the floor.
It’s not so endearing, however, when he insists on lying on my pillow squished between my head and the headboard whilst flicking his tail at me. And sometimes it would be nice to sit down without Jack stretching out on my lap and spilling onto my laptop computer. Still, his clinging is usually a nice thing.
Our sense of touch matters. It doesn’t just help manipulate objects without breaking them, it also provides a great deal of comfort. There’s something nice about a hug, or a cuddle, or even just touching one another ever so slightly when we’re sitting side by side. Physical contact is a way of saying “I love you” or “Be safe” or “See you again soon”. Sometimes, however, we need to cling to someone because we need to be held up, or empowered to rise from the ground, or to remind us that we are loved and lovable.
God sent Jesus as a fully-formed, huggable, handshake-able, lean-up-against-able human. He could touch and be touched, be felt against the pressing crowd, reached out to, stroked by a full head of hair. Now, in his resurrection form, we are the intermediaries that allow Him to be felt and touched. When we love as He loved, those who cling on to us are clinging onto Christ, just as we can cling on to Him through those who love us in a Christ-like way.
Sometimes Jack can be most annoying Cling-on when he won’t take “no!” for an answer when I’m too busy to hang out with him, or he gets too close for too long. People do that too, and there are folks who don’t understand boundaries and make us feel uncomfortable. It doesn’t happen very often but when it does it’s hard to feel Christ-like because we have to protect ourselves. When people are too clingy we have to set clear limits and make sure they’re honoured.
It’s a wonderful thing to be able to offer someone a shoulder to lean on, or to Cling-on in an appropriate way when we’re feeling blue. Sometimes, however, when we can’t cling onto others be clung to, we can always cling on to God through prayer and meditation. It might not be quite the same as appropriate physical touch, but with God, we don’t have to worry about being too clingy or needy. When we’re Cling-ons to God in our prayers or times of meditation, God’s patience is limitless and we are welcome to cling on as long as we need.