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.)
So now, as I was enveloped in this total, complete, mother, loving hug, I joined this deep sound that was coming from her – I hummed a tone into the surrounding mass that was her - as she was chanting into me. Her lips were near my ear and she kept repeating these syllables over and over and I could feel her vowels & “m” vibrating into me.
I remember being struck by the words, the sound, and the feeling, and minutes later, the sound of her chanting was still resonating through me. The writer in me made a note about that word (to tell my friend who is one of the helpers, thinking that he might know more about it, what it means, etc.)
(Interesting that 10 minutes later, I could no longer remember what she said, and when I asked my friend, he said he can never remember what she chants either (which makes me think of the angel in “Saving Grace”, an old TV show where no one could ever remember what the angel looked like.)
I could, however, remember the mental note I made to myself about the chant. Interesting our brains: I couldn’t remember the event, but I could remember thinking about the event – like memory once removed…or something.
What I do remember, and am thus inspired to write about, is the hug – the feeling of it, the ease of it, the completeness of it, and the sound of her voice - and finding myself joining it with a deep hum (like I do when hugging my dog – and sometimes people.) Her sound was part of the big softness and mine was tinier by comparison, burrowed in there.
Then, after the longest time, a single very long breath, I think – I felt complete. Message received. It seemed to me that was much longer than she had held others but that didn’t matter. I was fulfilled and grateful.
She took a breath, then pulled me in more deeply (if that’s possible) and then we rode another wave of vibration enveloped in this ultimate feel-good activity. Wow. This was already so much more than I had expected, my cup runneth over.
Then we were done. First there was the enjoyment of just sitting in the line - followed by the enjoyment of a hug - and now this satisfying enjoyment of having hugged – all in exchange with pure spirit. I loved how this woman shared her energy. Brilliant.
She looked at me warmly. I simply loved her and found myself putting my hands together for a quick bow while smiling so deeply. And she returned my smile & nodded, and then gave me a chocolate kiss before turning her attention to the next person she was about to hug.
(By the way, she will do this non-stop from morning till night – and sometimes all through the night. She’s a good hugger. A professional. Don’t try this at home. Wait a minute - I take that back – DO try this at home! Try it everywhere. “Hugs Are Us” – can we make an app?)
Just as this saint turned to the next person, hands were on me and directing me. Ah! These kind hands belonged to those serious faces I had seen all around Amma. I had to make an initial effort to focus on them (as, at that moment, I was drawn to focusing on my feelings), but I wanted these volunteering supporters to feel appreciated for what they do. I smiled and joked softly with each, and saw each person I encountered smile back and soften – just a little.
And I thought, yes, each of us does what we can to make things better: I smile & joke, Amma hugs, and these young people support by volunteering to guide and keep order in a situation of mass quantities of people.
Yes, I was enjoying that we each find the thing that’s needed, that we can do – or that we feel drawn to do – always with the intention of helping people experience love.
I was hugged by a saint today.