We all need them.
But I hadn’t realized just how much we long to be hugged, yearn for the warmth of human embrace, until I wrote about hugs a couple of days ago and received a number of comments and emails in reply.
And then on Friday afternoon, I went to the gym – for the fourth time this week! I’m visiting my daughter in Virginia and she goes regularly – and now her gym has kindly given me a free pass for the duration of my visit. I’ve got the bug already – pounding away on the treadmill, doing the rolling hills program, trying to keep ready for the 100 miles walk of Pilgrimage in September; weights in hand, ear plugs in, small TV screen on in front of me. And off I go, oblivious to my surroundings. I’ve watched chat shows, Wimbledon tennis, the news, depending on the time of day.
On Friday afternoon it was the news. And I was fascinated to see coverage of a HUG-IN.
A sweet looking Indian lady, called Amma (mother) to her followers, had been just a few miles away in Alexandria, VA, all day, just hugging people, one after the other. It’s what she does.
People had been waiting for hours in order to get a hug.
“She doesn’t get up, or stretch, or eat. It makes you contemplate your own life and challenges….When she hugs me, I experience a great surge of peace and spirit. I have to go sit down,” said a woman quoted in The Washington Post.
People believe that Mata Amritanandamayi, the hugging saint, transmits power to others through a simple hug.
And in many ways they are right. A hug can relieve stress, prolong life, increase healthy levels in the body
But it seemed so sad that people had travelled and waited in order to be hugged by a stranger. Was it so very different to being hugged by family or friends? Did the effect wear off and if so would they have to follow Amma to her next location for another hug?
And I thought again of the Good Shepherd carrying His lambs close to His Heart. (Isaiah 40:11)
How He wept because the people were tired and confused, like sheep without a Shepherd. (Matthew 9:36)
And how He has no hands now but our hands – to hug and hold and help.
Teresa of Avila (1515–1582) wrote:
Christ Has No Body
Christ has no body but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes with which he looks Compassion on this world, Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good, Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, Yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now but yours, No hands, no feet on earth but yours, Yours are the eyes with which he looks compassion on this world. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.
Might you hug someone today with the hug of the Good Shepherd? Who needs a hug from you?
Or maybe you need to ask for a hug for yourself?
And send this on to someone so that they will also hug someone else?