Putting Down Roots


four hugs a day
November 13, 2011, 11:49 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

There was a song we used to listen to at my mother’s house on a tape when I was little. The main gist of it was this: “four hugs a day: that’s the minimum. Four hugs a day: not the maximum!” There may have been other words, but they’ve long since been forgotten. The rule, though, has stuck with me. When I work at camp, I get way more than my four-a-day; these days, unless you count the snuggles of the kids I take care of, I’m lucky to get one or two.

Any day, that is, except Sundays. If you can bank hugs, I get enough on Sunday to make up for the whole week. I’ve fallen into a pattern where I regularly attend three wildly different religious services almost every Sunday.

At United Church, I can count on Cynthia, with her twangy drawl, catching me in the minutes between band practice and the service with a, “hey there, sunshine,” before she pulls me into a hug. This morning, Gail wrapped her arms around me while I was looking for my nametag, and then Currie grabbed me on my way to fill up my teacup before the service started, squeezing me tight and planting several quick kisses on my cheek.

At Quaker meeting, the silent worship ends when one Friend shakes hands with another, and this morning I turned to Greg–whose mother just died a month ago, who is still wearing only black shirts, and whose sadness was palpable the whole length of meeting even though we didn’t speak to each other until afterwards–and offered a hug instead of a handshake. While I was talking during the fellowship (read: snack) time, LaRaela interrupted to give me a quick squeeze and check up on my week. When I had already swung one leg over my bike to head on home, Elizabeth ran out the doors and threw her arms around me, reminding me that she loved me and was glad I was still around.

And then, at FSU’s Episcopal University Center, it is expected that during the communion service’s passing of the peace you will hug, or at the very least shake hands with, every person present. I got hugs from the priest (Father Mike) and the pastor (Mama Nan); from organist and one-woman choir; from people I’m close with and people whose names I still can’t seem to remember.

Some of the hugs are spontaneous, some are expected, and some just happen because the church was smart enough to make a ritual that gives everyone an excuse to reach outside their bubbles, just for a moment, and hold on to someone else.

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