Every Friday since June, the church I attend prepares a meal for families experiencing food insufficiency. Volunteers arrive at the church in late afternoon to deliver dinner. I take a meal to a family whose husband recently died of cancer.
I look forward to visiting with the wife each week. Seeing her helps me stay connected, especially since we can visit outside, masked and six feet apart. She is one of the few people I care about who I can see in person, not on zoom or face-time.
Last Friday, I copied a prayer I thought she might enjoy written by an author we mutually appreciate. When I gave my friend the paper, she took a minute to read the prayer and exclaimed, "This is my hug for today!"
I smiled and was grateful to provide something to help with her grief - a prayer and a hug via paper!
Driving home, her words clung to my heart - "this is my hug for today." I realized maybe we need to think of new ways to hug, different from the traditional arms embracing each other.
The next day, I went to get the mail and found a letter from a long-time friend who lives in Florida. We have known each other for thirty years and keep in touch only by letter. I also received a package from my younger daughter's mother-in-law who lives in California. She knows how much I like the beach. She sent a beautiful card with a stunning photograph of a rock formation on the cover and six heart-shaped rocks from the ocean. She explained in the card, "Whenever I come across a heart-shaped rock on the beach I know I've found a treasure!"
After I opened both of these pieces of mail, I decided I had already received two hugs for the day!
Changing my focus helped me receive texts from my children as hugs. When I led a monthly Saturday morning group at the church I attend, outside, masked and six feet apart, I gathered four more hugs.
Maybe during this time when we are so mindful of spreading the virus, we can think of other ways to receive hugs and realize throughout the day, we are getting more hugs than ever!
When I swim, I have a hug from the water, when I watch the birds, squirrels and rabbits eat food I put out for them in the front yard, I receive a hug from nature, and when I read an interesting book, I am embraced by the author's words, thoughts and information.
Everyone is learning to do things differently these days - getting groceries delivered or picked up at the store, shopping online, so maybe if we change our idea of what a hug can look like, like my friend suggests, we will make seemingly common occurrences hugs and feel additional love during times greatly welcoming both.