Dominating the news cycle this morning was the 18 yr old brother of a man who was shot and killed by a female officer who mistakenly entered his apartment, believing it was her own and that he was an intruder. As he addressed the officer during her sentencing he spoke of love, forgiveness and asked the courts permission to give the woman who killed his brother, a hug!
I readily admit that I cried each time the story played. I could easily write a library of posts about this incident, on real love, real faith, real forgiveness, but for now I’ll focus on… the hug.
In the adult world or at least here in the Americas, hugs are a rarity. Unless we are exceptionally close to someone, we limit physical contact altogether by extending a hand for a quick shake then retract into our personal space. Women tend to be more embracing with close friends who’ll commonly greet each other with a quick hug. Men attempt the “cool dude” version, coming in from the side with a shoulder for a modified chest bump.
We weren’t like this as children, closed off, distant, singular, and I wonder at what knowledge we may have lost along the way. As children, we were fearless, open, carefree and care giving. It was the most natural thing on earth to wrap.our arms around a friend who was hurt or needed comforting. And, we didn’t minimize it, we hugged with our whole being, our whole hearts.
But I’m no longer like that, I’ve learned somewhere along life’s way to shy from it’s intimacy, contact, connection. Sure it comes easy to me with my children, grandchildren and my dogs. I hug them often, brief embraces (except for the dogs who forcefully demand we make a day of it). But, there’s something so striking and inexplicable about a REAL hug, the kind of hug that’s given with your entire being.
My granddaughter, Adalie, taught me much about this. Even as an infant, when she gave one, you knew you were really being hugged. She’d wrap her entire self around you with all of her strength and would not let you go. Even from such a babe, this kind of hug was stunning, taking me aback as if something spiritual had just happened that I could not put words to.
As adults, even a lengthy hug, on average, only lasts about 3 seconds. But, did you know that researchers have discovered that when a hug lasts at least 20 seconds, there is a therapeutic effect on the body and mind? A real, sincere hug produces a hormone called “oxytocin”, known as the love hormone and has many benefits to our physical and mental health.
It helps us, among other things, to relax, to feel safe and calm our fears and anxiety. It may also have benefits as a treatment for a number of conditions, including depression, anxiety, (and weirdly, intestinal problems). It promotes bonding, trust, empathy, is described as the hormone of attachment and crystallizes loving memories.
In a world where we are told that enmity lies at every turn, between men, women, black, white, police and public, the courtroom from this mornings news feed held it all. I watched a young black man face the white female police officer who had tragically taken his brothers life, the court presided over by a weeping black female judge who granted the young man’s stunning plea to give a hug. I too wept, as she ran into his open arms, melding together with every fiber of their beings and hearts in a hug….the kind of hug that could heal us….a hug that could change the world.
Learn to hug again, my friends. Hug like you did as children, with all you hearts and might. Embrace someone you love, hold on and don’t let go.💕