Hugs are the universal medicine. ~Author Unknown
Something completely unexpected happened this weekend after I finished Confession.
(Now, for those who aren’t aware, “Confession” is more properly known as the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and Catholics are required to participate once a year — more often is generally preferred.)
Anyway, this elderly priest was substituting for our regular one, and I’d never talked one-on-one with him before. After giving me absolution, he said he had one more thing to ask of me.
“Stand up,” he said.
I did, feeling puzzled.
Then he stretched wide his arms and asked me for a hug.
A hug? In this day of clergy abuse?
You’re kidding, right?
No, he was not. He was dead serious.
And what could I do but comply?
It was a quick hug, nothing intimate about it, but I was stunned at the conflicting feelings I had as I took my seat back in church.
When I was a kid, our elderly parish priest used to walk among us as we played outside during recess at school, and he dispensed hugs to one and all. We saw him as a kindly grandfather, giving money to kids who couldn’t afford lunch or had forgotten their cash.
Nobody thought anything bad about the hugs. If truth were known, his hug might have been the only hug some kids received all day.
But now, because of so much scandal in the clergy (both Catholic and Protestant), we hold our religious leaders at arm’s length. We put them on a pedestal and expect them to stay there. We refuse to let our kids be alone with them, and some stop attending church at all.
Sad commentary, isn’t it, when all of us — being human — need the kind touch of others?
[E]very day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back. ~Maya Angelou