Last night, in downtown Scranton, I again took to the street and was giving hugs to passersby. There were a couple of differences this time; first, I was not blindfolded. I wanted to see people, eye to eye, and show that additional part of my vulnerable self. And, I had a different sign, one that read, “I see your humanity, do you see mine? How about a hug?”.
As with my last experience, the results were both interesting and moving to me. I felt excitement about the event all day, but right before it, I got really nervous. Not nervous about my own safety being at risk, but nervous about being that exposed, calling attention to myself in a unique way. Yet, shortly after I began, I breathed deeply and went with it.
There were moments, of course, that stood out more than others. The man who was walking with some difficulty, who saw me from across the very busy street and crossed to give me a hug. The man who told me that he had missed his opportunity for a hug last time I did it. The child who had a shark painted on his face, whose smile was a bright light.
There were the people who made eye contact, smiled, and walked by. There were people that stood and looked while a friend was hugging me. There were those that told me how they really needed it. I even was asked by one person, if I was, indeed, hugging everyone. Aren’t there some people that you should be more wary of? No, I said.
There were two more that stood out deeply for me. One young person, who looked like they had all of their belongings on their back, came up with their dog, and before hugging me, stated “I’m probably smelly, I hope that’s okay”. And, a woman who I had been watching for quite some time, coming along on the sidewalk, using her walker. She was smiling the whole time she was approaching me, and came to see me just for a hug.
Then, as we were walking to have dinner, a woman approached me, asking if I was the Hugging Lady; that she had been looking for me, to come by and get another hug. She said she really needed both of them today.
I have been thinking all morning about the fact that the miracle that we experience in this world, is when we realize the gift that is given to both the giver, and the receiver, when we offer something to others. I went into this projected with few expectations of how it would turn out; yet thrilled with the results. Thrilled because not only do I get to give to someone freely, something that they may truly need, but also get to receive so much in return. And, the exchange of energy and love that exists in those moments is truly a miracle in action.