tangible vs intangible

“God, of your goodness, give me yourself;
you are enough for me, and anything less that I could ask for would
not do you full honor.
And if I ask anything that is less,
I shall always lack something, but in you alone I have everything’.”

Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love

Friendship is one of the most tangible things in a world
which offers fewer and fewer supports.

Kenneth Branagh


(an Anglican rosary / Julie Cook / 2021)

One of the greatest conundrums for Christians…
and perhaps that for our Jewish brethren as well,
is that of the tangible vs the intangible.

Merriam-Webster tells us that tangible is defined as:
able to be touched or felt

The opposite of that, intangible, is defined as:
an asset (such as goodwill) that is not corporeal
:an abstract quality or attribute

So it seems as if our conundrum exists between that which can be touched,
felt, held, vs that which is abstract and perhaps more intellectual…
as in something that is not to be touched or held.
Something far and beyond…
as in Omnipotent and of a different realm from our own.

I think we’d all agree that an Omnipotent God tends to exist in the realm
of the intangible.
As in above as well as beyond that of mere mortals.

And as a said mere mortal, that being one who likes to touch, feel
and know that what I cherish is indeed “real”…
the notion of the abstract and intellectual is not easy.
In fact it can downright frustrating.

Personally, I am one who wants, nay needs, to be able to touch, hold and feel.
And in turn I need to be touched, held and felt by others.
That’s how I know something is indeed real and in turn others
know that I am equally real.
That one on one physical connection is so utterly necessary.
It is soothing, comforting and for the lack of a better word, sound.

Yet our faith defiantly implores us to trust.
Trust in the unseen.
Trust in that which is not to be touched, felt or held.
Trust in that which does not readily physically embrace us.
Trust in that which is beyond our grasp and beyond our worldly vision.

Somedays that is not a problem.
Our intellect can make sense of such and we have a bit of transcendence.
Our thoughts can delve beyond both space and time.

Other days, it seems to be a mere impossibility.
A day goes bad.
We feel under the weather.
We feel alone.
We are hurting.

And it is in those moments we need the tangible.
We need to touch and be touched.
To hold and be held.

It is the only link in knowing that we exist and that we matter.

That is why there is many a night I fall asleep holding my
Anglican rosary in my hands.

I have both Catholic and Anglican rosaries–however being raised
in the Anglican communion, I am more comfortable using that type of prayer rope.

Holding such “a prayer rope”, helps me to feel as if I have something that I
can hold in my hand that allows me to feel as if I am holding God’s hand.

The other night had been tough…and so as I readied for bed,
I reached for my rosary.

I knew I was desperately in need of “the tangible”

I eventually turned off the table lamp and laid on my back while
staring upward through the inky black night.
I held on tightly to the rosary.
Reciting an ancient set of prayers for each bead. The beads moved one by one, passing through my tired hand.
This tiny ritual of mine was more of a matter of my imploring, or more like begging, God to please come quickly be by my side.

I imagined that as I prayed holding those beads, I was actually holding the Father’s hand.
Just as a young child, I had reached out my hand to take His hand in mine.

Oddly, when I had finally drifted off to sleep, turning over, I actually loosened
my hold of the rosary.

It was during that brief fitful interim of sleep that I had had an awful dream.
A troubling dream.
One that had me waking short of breath and with actual tears in my eyes.
I felt a sense of rising panic.

My bad dreams have always been terribly vivid.

Immediately I found myself feeling in the covers  for my rosary.

Finding it, I clutched it to my chest. Still feeling shaken, I knew I was holding it so tightly that the beads might just pop off.  But I also knew that in my despair,  I had actually reached out my hand for God’s hand just as He in turn offered
me His hand.
We stayed that way, holding hands, for the remainder of the night.

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love.
Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

1 John 4:16

17 comments on “tangible vs intangible

  1. I didn’t know that us former Anglicans had a rosary

  2. Good post, Julie! Very sweet. We are such spiritual creatures so sometimes we need to be centered, grounded, made aware of what is tangible. Rosaries, crosses, getting out in nature, even just putting our feet on the ground, can bring us back to the material and physical world. I write about biology, well sort of, to remind us to come back to earth. We hug kids for that same reason. I love how the Lord says, “cling to what is good.” Clinging like a toddler might cling to someone is a very tangible thing.

  3. atimetoshare.me says:

    As you know I have some troubling dreams too. They usually are fearful enough to wake me up and I feel as though it was all real. God’s Word has always been my tangible connection to Him. We need to feel that connection just as a child needs a parents touch. I’m praying that you find relief from your bad dreams. It also helps to scream at the devil to get the hell out

  4. hatrack4 says:

    Is my philosophy posts rubbing off? Well written. One of the things that I am looking forward to in the next life is No More Bad Dreams. But what did that dream do? Brought you closer to the very real God.

  5. Salvageable says:

    The tangible treasures of Christianity that matter most to me are the washing with water in Holy Baptism, frequently meeting the Savior at his Table where he serves his body and his blood, gathering with his people around his Word and hearing his promise of forgiveness spoken, and (of course) reading the words of his apostles and prophets and knowing them as the faithful and reliable truth. People who neglect those tangible blessings are often found looking for God in all the wrong places. J.

  6. Dawn Marie says:

    Another thing we do similarly!!!🤣 Many mornings I will arise to find my Rosary under my pillow or still nestled between my fingers. Such a comfort and calming way to chase away what is troubling the heart. 💕

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