Several months ago I was at a Unitarian Universalist service where the meditation reading was about making physical connections. The sermon was about following in the footsteps of role-models who have lived before us from as far back as Jesus Christ to the most recent losses in each of our individual lives. I hesitate to bring theology into my blog and there are many different views and individual opinions as to whether Jesus is the son of God. But one thing almost everyone can agree on is that Jesus was an influential figure who has positively impacted people with his compassionate ways for thousands of years. This day, the focus of the sermon was on the historical facts, so that each individual could take away their own interpretation and, in turn, motivation to “live differently”from the example of this man’s life.
I, personally, feel strongly about the ways to carry his message on in my own life. To me this means:
What can I do in each of my interactions, with both people known to me and those who have yet to be known, to spread a message of love and hope? How can I look beyond external qualities to see the energy of the soul that lies beneath all of us? How can I recognize when someone else is in need and reach outside of myself to embrace them, support them, lift them up, hold their space, help them to feel loved?
It doesn’t have to be a “grand gesture,” sometimes the smallest package carries the biggest present: a kind word, a reassuring smile… a hug.
While the pastor was encouraging us to “think compassionately,” I started to hear a small, insistent voice in my head. It whispered, “Lean forward; give Erin a hug.” I tried to shush this increasingly louder refrain and refocus my attention on listening to the remainder of the sermon. The voice continued, becoming more and more demanding. I attempted to quiet my mind, “Stop it! I’ll give her a hug after the service. It’s not appropriate right now!” Now mind you, we were sitting in front of the entire congregation, second row, with Erin seated in the front row. As well, this women I was being “encouraged” to reach out to, I know only as a social acquaintance and had no idea how she would receive my “spontaneous hug.” Let’s face it; I was overly concerned about social decorum (completely missing the mark on this opportunity to practice compassion)!
But, I soon realized that this voice wasn’t coming from my head. It was coming from my heart. And not only was I trying to quiet an idea born of love, I was directly being willful in the eye of an opportunity to live like Jesus, to carry on the love of those who have died before me. For me, I was reminded of my father, and the hugs he would so freely share with others. I was ignoring a direct calling to spread that love out to someone else in need.
So, I embraced this request, subtly leaning forward to touch Erin on the shoulder. I was just in the middle of quietly saying, “I don’t know why, but I am supposed to give you a hug right now” when she turned towards me, tears silently streaming down her face. I didn’t know it at the time, but the sermon had sparked an emotional response of personal loss. And she was holding all of these feelings alone. If I had not trusted my intuitive voice, she would of never felt held… felt the love I had to share with her at that moment. She would have stayed abandoned with her pain. The hug was brief and even a bit awkward. But her shoulders relaxed, my mind quieted, and we both felt… at peace. And after the service, she sought me out for a deep, enveloping embrace, where we just held each other. Nothing had to be said. But we both left with a quiet “thank you,” because each of us had been uplifted by the exchange of loving energy.
That same night, I couldn’t get these thoughts and feelings out of my mind as I was going to sleep. I knew I had to write them down and I proceeded to document one of my infamous “blind poems” (random thoughts written across a found scrap of paper, sans light). That poem was so organically “right,” I never made a single change to it. And there is something powerful (I think) in hearing it spoken aloud. So above is the video creation of that poem, “Hugs, Exponential.”
May it inspire you to listen to that deep inner voice… to reach outside of yourself to embrace another… to be vulnerable, and to reap the multitude of gifts that comes from this openness.