I saw a guy yesterday who needed a hug. I just didn’t realize it until it was too late. In hindsight, it was obvious: tone of voice, slumping posture, facial expression, even the comments he made in our brief interaction. All the indicators… and I missed it.
Sure, the aisle of a hardware store isn’t the setting where men my age figure hug-sharing is the likely response to seeing someone you haven’t seen in a year or two. No matter what they say. All that hardware staring at you. Big Schedule 40 pipe fittings, layers of flat-stacked furnace filters, faucet repair kits, discounted tool specials, and what-have-you. But even with all that, when you see a big dude that needs a hug, you should just go ahead and hug him.
I know that. And I wish I’d done it.
Hugs are therapeutic. Hugs have healing power. Hugs reduce tension, lower stress, and make life better. Hugs convey caring in ways that words can’t express. Hugs bring hearts in such proximity that there is a direct connection that provides communication on a mystical, spiritual level.
Of course, I’m talking about real hugs here. Arms around each other, faces side to side, hold on till everybody feels better. “Screw the world, I love you” kind of hugs. “Forget the train, I’ll catch the next one” kind of hugs. The kind of hugs that tell us that this is the real deal kind of friendship. That say, “Man, I hate whatever’s going on with you, and I wish I could fix it but I don’t have a chrome-plated crescent wrench with left hand threads so I’m just gonna hug you like this for a while. Gosh, I hope that’s okay.”
That’s what I wish I’d done at Ace Hardware in the middle of a Tuesday afternoon.
I did and I will pray for the guy. But I’m pretty sure that prayers wrapped in hugs are much more effective. I think it says so in Jude, Chapter Two.
So, if you happen to be around Ark City and see some old gray-bearded guy run up to some big hairy young dude and grab him in a great big ole bear hug, it’s not an assault. It’s retroactive spiritual intervention.