Last weekend we went out for our 16th hugging session of 2017, which already doubles any other year we’ve done them (and it’s only August!!) During our last 2 sessions we also got to meet our first Hugging Ambassadors from 2 more countries (Nigeria and Turkey), bringing the number of countries we’ve hugged to 30 for this year and 60 countries in total (that we know of). It never ceases to amaze and delight us.
Two of the most popular questions we get from people are, “How many people have you hugged today?” (A: We have no idea. Every hug is unique and special to us) and “Why are you doing this?” There are both long and short answers to that question. The short answer is ‘kindness’. And that got us thinking about the reasons we do what we do.
You see, we don’t go out to the Homecoming Memorial to give out hugs. That is the most obvious expression of what we do, and we do share a lot of hugs in a day. But the reason we show up is to create an opening. We create an opening for interaction, for caring, for listening… we create an opening for peace, an opening for sanctuary, if only for a moment. We create a space for sharing joy and for sharing sadness. We share stories, we share memories, and we share connection. We share contact, physically, emotionally and spiritually. We share best wishes, both with those who stop and for those who pass us by, and sometimes we wonder upon whom we have the greater impact – those who stop to share with us, or those who don’t? We don’t know, and in the end it doesn’t matter. We share loving intention, and we plant seeds… seeds of trust, of hope, of love. We offer, but people have to come to us and we are there for whatever they need in the moment. In exchange we receive them – whatever they are willing and able to share with us – and that is the most precious gift of all.
Remember to hug someone you love today. Or a stranger. Or, preferably, both!!
P.S. At the end of each session we roll our posters back up into their carrying tube, step into that phone booth and return to our anonymous selves. However, there have been occasions where it seems we’re not quite as anonymous as we think we are – like the young man who ran down the street behind us as we neared home because he wanted a hug. Or Marjorie, who stopped us last Saturday as we were heading south. She’d seen us as they were driving by, and wanted to know if she could still get a hug. Absolutely! Any time, anywhere, every one.