A Single Hug

By Joseph J. Mazzella • April 29, 2022

It is strange how a single moment can change a person’s life. It is incredible how one simple act of love can forever transform one’s soul. My adult son walked to the table this morning for breakfast and as he did he opened his arms to me. I opened my arms too and gave him a big hug just like I do every morning. And this time when I did a beautiful memory came back to me.

My Italian Nana had been a big hugger when I was a boy, but my Mom had grown up in a more reserved household. She hugged me sometimes but less often as I grew into my teenage years. My Dad too seemed to follow the gender roles of the day back then and didn’t hug me much as I got older. By the time I was a teenager then, except for my Nana, I didn’t hug anyone.

When I was sixteen I left on a trip with a group of boys to tour a Seminary College in the Mid-West. And on our way there we also stopped by an old Monastery. As we entered we were greeted there by the largest monk I had ever seen. He was over six and a half feet tall with huge arms and a booming voice. And as he greeted us he gave each one of us a HUGE HUG. When my own turn came I felt scared but stepped in and hugged him back. I felt a warmth in my heart as he shared his loving-kindness. I felt a peace and joy in my spirit as well. It was amazing. Later that day I began to wonder why I had ever stopped giving and receiving hugs when they brought so much joy. When my own children were born then I decided to never stop hugging them and telling them I loved them, no matter how big they grew or how old they got.

I will be forever thankful to God and that monk for showing me how much love a single hug can share. What use are arms, after all, if we can’t use them to hug each other. What use are lips if we can’t say “I Love You!” God gives us countless ways to share our kindness and joy here. Let’s use them all. Let’s share our love, one hug at a time.

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