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The Hug - An Unbelievable Story?



Image by Almos Bechtold - Unsplash

I walked in the park today. The temps registered around 50 degrees, so the patches of ice I’d been gingerly stepping around for the previous few days were gone. I could finally complete my route at a good pace.

Other than just walking, I always crave visiting the stream there, which is tucked away in the wood. I knew it would be swelling with snow melt crashing against the bedrocks. I needed to see it. I chose to visit it at the end of my walk. The path to it was close to the parking lot.

I was on the last leg of the walk, almost back to where I would turn off for the stream, when I saw a couple walking toward me, about 100 feet away. Mere seconds after I spotted them, the man, who was quite a bit taller, reached around the woman’s back and pulled her close in a side-to-side hug. It lasted a few seconds as they continued to walk. The magical moment was evidenced by their body language. Loving, playful, so spontaneous and joyful that it rippled through me, too.


When I got close enough for them to hear me, I stopped and turned to them. Gesturing exuberantly with arms in the air, I exclaimed, “That was a good hug! It’s so nice these days to see people hugging.”


Momentarily surprised at my outburst, their middle-aged faces lit up with proud and slightly embarrassed smiles.


I walked on thinking about hugs and how much I miss them. In the last two years, the huggers among us mourn the loss and the ease with which we once engaged. I’d love a hug! That sent me imagining my mental list of the hugs I’ve enjoyed: Wade’s, of course, friends and family, little kids’ hugs when they are excited to see you, and Nora’s double helix body hugs that no longer suit her 13-year old ways. Maybe I will just post an “I miss hugs” meme on Facebook when I get home to share this longing.


When I arrived at my vista near the stream, I dropped the hug narrative into the white noise of the water that was tripping and crashing against the rocks and eroding the ice floats too big to pass through the channels. I let my thoughts drown and bathed my senses in the sounds and sights, welcoming the cleansing energy.


Satisfied after about 20 minutes, I headed back toward the parking lot. Back on the blacktop, I ducked under the gate just as a dark-colored SUV came toward me swooping in a half circle to a stop with its passenger door smack in front of me. I didn’t have time to think before the surprise came. Inside the SUV was the hugging couple!


“Oh my God. Hi”! I laughed.


“Hi,” they said in unison.


“My wife couldn’t stop thinking about you and what you said,” remarked the man. “She kept talking about it all the while we were walking.” He hesitated a bit and then said, “You were walking alone. We thought... well, we wondered if you had someone waiting somewhere for you. To hug you. Or something like that.”


“No,” I smiled. “He died a few years ago.” I would normally have been more cautious at this point, but I wasn’t at all concerned. I couldn’t guess their ethnicity from their accents, but they spoke with the warmth and sincerity of the hug I witnessed. I sensed what I needed to know.


“We actually drove out of the park,” said the man. “My wife couldn’t get you out of her mind.”

“I made him turn around and come back,” she said.


“She wants to give you a hug,” he said.


I took one step back to make it easier to look directly into her face. She nodded yes to the surprised, Are you serious? look in my eyes.


“Oh my god, that’s amazing,” I said. “Of course, that would be awesome.” I moved in closer. Our winter coats slid like butter along each other’s as we embraced. A full-on chin-over-shoulder hold, with her half out of the car window and me leaning half in to meet her. It lasted a few glorious seconds. No awkward hesitation involving COVID or anything else.


“Oh, thank you!” I said, as I was releasing her. “What a wonderful thing. What a wonderful surprise. Thank you.”


I was tingling with joy. Her face radiated love and compassion back at me.

“We come here every day,” said the husband. We lit into sharing our reflections about the park and the stream. They loved it as I did.


This is amazing. What timing. But, there’s no such thing as coincidence. “Had I not gone to the stream, or had I stayed longer there, we would have missed each other,” I said.


“God loves you, you know,” he said. “And you are never alone.”


“Ah, yes, I know I am never alone.”


“If you need a hug, just sit in the dark and think about it, and you will feel it,” he said.

“Yes, yes. I’ve had some experience with that. I definitely believe you.”


Just as they were about to pull away, I asked her, “What’s your name?”


“Ester.”


“I’m Joe,” he chimed.


“Ester was my grandmother’s name. My mother’s mother. Thank you so much, again! Bye, Ester and Joe. Have a great evening.”


You can’t make this stuff up. For me, it is a great reminder of exactly how manifestation works.