I was going through a prayerful reflection that was using visualization.  The idea was that it took you to the Nativity scene where you met Jesus, Mary and Joseph.  I'm not used to this type of prayer for a lot of reasons, but the reflection continued with a focus on an embrace by Mary.

This may sound really strange to some of you, if this is not your particular type of prayer, but it brought to mind a memory from long ago that I thought I'd share.  When I am in the right mood, and open to this type of prayer, I have found it quite powerful in the past, so I try to be open to it when invited to do so.

Anyway, I was probably somewhere in my early twenties and I walked into my mom's kitchen.  I can see her standing there and we started talking.  I don't know if I needed the hug or if she did, but I seem to remember her saying that hugs are important, especially for people who live alone, as she embraced me deeply.

I remember it felt so good, and her perspective awakened me to the reality of the importance of hugs.  Twice widowed, and living alone, I'm sure she cherished every hug.  Interestingly, we are a "huggy" family, so it has always been a part of the landscape of our lives, but I guess we both needed a good hug that day.

So the reflection encouraged the retreatant (me) to contemplate an embrace from Mary, the mother of Jesus.  I'm sure it would feel like that hug from my mom.  Perhaps some of you whose mom is no longer with you can remember how wonderful "mom hugs" can be.

I guess I am suggesting that each of us remembers the importance of a hug, and that we don't forget to give, and receive, those meaningful hugs that bring us closer to both strangers, and the people we love.

Like a smile, a hug can work wonders.

Janet Cassidy


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