Hugs are an outward sign of inward grace | National Catholic Reporter

Our purpose in life is to come to see and to show what we really are in Christ. A hug is an outward sign of an inward grace. It expresses our spiritual oneness with God and each other. What could be more beautiful?

via Hugs are an outward sign of inward grace | National Catholic Reporter.

Please do read the above essay by Michael Leach. Warning, it might give you an uncontrollable urge to hug someone.

Hugs are given out generously in our family. When we arrive, and when we depart; we hug. When we hear news worth celebrating, and when sorrows are shared; we hug. When we reunite with old friends or family, a hug melts the separation of time. And when someone new is welcomed into our home…well, that can get a wee bit tricky…

One daughter always warns her friends that they may get hugged at the door. But, the ‘hug or not to hug’ question sometimes requires a game-time decision. I hate making decisions, so usually open my arms to welcome someone new. When in doubt, hug…right? Not always. When someone seems really ill at ease or shy, a hug can be truly an awkward thing. Just like the ‘dead fish hand-shake’, the ill-at-ease-light-pat-on-the-back-and-oh-so-swift-distancing can feel like a rejection. In those cases, I just make a mental note. Next time, a warm greeting and perhaps an outstretched hand.

Or, another approach. Persistence! Some folks just need some hugging lessons. Give them enough time and enough hugs, and they’ll get the hang of it. It’s a wonderful feeling when a reformed non-hugger  finally welcomes you with open arms. 🙂

But, I have also been in situations where cultural traditions must be respected. Physical closeness can be seen as not only an intrusion, but as the height of rudeness. This must be respected in order not to offend. And then there’s the wonderful European embrace…arms on shoulders and the double cheek kiss. After a lot of head butts, I’m still trying to master this one. Which side do you start with? And then, just when I think I got it, someone pulls out the triple kiss!

Ah, now I’m over-analyzing the beautiful simplicity of a wonderful gesture. Leach also says, An old saying goes, “A hug is a universal medicine. It is how we handshake from the heart.”


3 thoughts on “Hugs are an outward sign of inward grace | National Catholic Reporter

  1. Oh my, Isabella! You are describing our family–especially when the children marry someone from a non-hugging tradition! In our family, I am the “hugger” and my husband is more of a “non-hugger.” Over the years I have become more respectful of the other person in my hugging habits, and my husband has become more open to hugging–especially with close family and friends. And I ALWAYS love a good hug from a friend!

  2. My Spanish friends sign off their emails with ‘un abrazo’…a hug! Even better is ‘besos y abrazos’, adding a kiss to the greeting. Here’s to sharing more warmth across the miles.

    Sending you a cyber-hug, Marceta! 🙂

  3. Thank God for the renewal movements within the Church such as “Marriage Encounter” and “Cursillo” that did so much to brake down some of the unhealthy male attitudes whereby it was not appropriate for men to hug each other. My wife and I had made Marriage Encounter several years before my brother and his wife did, after he was “encountered” I got to hug him one time. He died in a car accident a short time later.

    Like Marceta, I have become respectful in my hugging habits, I once worked with someone who had suffered a lot of physical abuse as a child, and I saw them hugged by accident a few times. It looked painful for this person when they were hugged; I feel certain they were re-experiencing the physical abuse with the unwanted hugs.

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