The other evening, I watched an interview with Sara Cunningham, the founder of FreeMomHugs.org. I was struck by the resonance her message made with me. Not just because I am a supporter of equal rights for all, but because I feel the absence of and a hunger for hugs. Some weeks depending on my schedule I often go from Sunday to Sunday without any human physical contact. How I treasure my church friends who bend down to give me a hug or extend a hand to shake or give me a shoulder squeeze.
After one of my often married and subsequently divorced friends once again split with his then current wife, I asked him what he missed most about being married. I expected a flippant remark about dinner on the table, dry cleaning picked up, or arm candy for social events, but he surprised me. He said, “I miss just having someone to hug and to be hugged.” I know what he meant because just that little bit of daily physical contact reminds us that we are important in someone’s life, and it validates us. The human body craves touch. That is one of the reasons I enjoy linking hands during our last hymn on Sunday morning. I anticipate that little hand squeeze at the end of the final stanza and sometimes a proffered handshake as we wish each a blessed week.
Another thing that Sara mentioned was that she stands in at weddings if someone’s parents are unable to attend either by choice or circumstance. This led me to think about the opportunities we all have to stand-in or to attend and support activities for our friends. Whether it be a long-coming graduation, achieving citizenship, getting a community-recognition award, being baptized, having a book signing, or exhibiting in an art show—ask if you may attend. Say you would like to be there for your friend. For a performance, even karaoke, show up and show support. I don’t know who said it first, but it is worth repeating—we are all in this world together, and no one is getting out alive.