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I Was Hugged by a Saint Today


I was hugged by a saint today.

I was kneeling and wasn't much more than a foot from her (after being guided to that position by the hands of assistants.)

As I had been watching her, happily hugging everyone who had been waiting in line, I could not help smiling. I especially enjoyed her with the babies and children of the people in front of me. (There was a long queue for this saint’s hug but everything in this room was painless, including the line.) Her love was for all and freely given, with great joy and compassion. What a great way to use one's energy.

And you should see her with babies. They would open up in delight and sometimes cry to go back to their mothers. It was magical.

I noticed that many of those around her were not smiling, but then they were conscientiously attending to taking care of her. They clearly took that responsibility seriously but not in a heavy or unpleasant way, they were just not smiling as they were focused on the task at hand (which was usually ushering people in various directions quickly, efficiently, and kindly.)

Most helpers were young, but there was older Indian man (with a face full of character you just want to photograph) behind her. He was focused but not looking at anything (more like through it) and he quickly took the things that people gave her out of her way. She was there simply for the hug. All else could be removed.

But Amma, the saint for whom all had come - often called “Mother”, had enough joy for all. Her smile and happiness were easy and natural – and not without wisdom.

As my turn came and she turned to me, my wide smile met hers and she pulled me to her. My head naturally landed facing away from her on her right shoulder, but she quickly and adeptly turned it so that I was face into the mother.

She was a mountain. She was air. She was the fulfillment of a mother’s embrace. There was nothing but her beneath me and around me, she was everywhere – her white robes and big soft body enveloped me. Ok, yes, that's sounding poetic, but I mean it literally. She surrounds you and holds you the way every child wants to be held, it's the ultimate "It's all right" nurturing assurance.

I then realized that my arms were wrapped around her. A rather intimate act with a total stranger but it felt natural and, well … good. Later, it struck me that the way I opened to her was the way my soft puppy opens to me when I envelope him, the way babies open to their mothers.

(As I had been waiting in line I hadn’t thought about where my arms or hands would go when she hugged me. I guess I had seen some drape themselves around her neck and others it seemed were being totally cradled like children, but I never considered what my physical relationship with her would be. I had been simply sitting in the line with this huge smile on my face, enjoying the beautiful exchange that was unfolding before me. Hugs were happening – they were needed and perfectly met.)