Magazine article Anglican Journal

I Am Not a Hugger

Magazine article Anglican Journal

I Am Not a Hugger

Article excerpt

THE MOST memorable moment during a visit to a 103-year-old Great War veteran? The black-and-white photo stamped -June 1962- showing him playing guitar to a delighted toddler. Both wear matching western shirts. The occasion? His retirement. Beautiful.

I fairly buzzed with gratitude that my fellow priest-In-training asked me to join this first visit to Mr. Norman, and all is going well. That is until he mentions his wife, who has been dead for 25 years. His voice falters, then fails. His pale eyes shimmer with unshed tears. "Dammit," he snorts. "Don't know why I'm like this."

I understand. I sit back slightly and look away to give him privacy. My head snaps back at the sound of my colleague's voice. "There. there." she coos. She has leaned in and is stroking his face. "It's OK. Its OK to cry." His angry frown deepens as his tears flow freely. "That was wonderful," she beams later. "Just wonderful."

Me? I'm not a hugger. Call it old school, but when I'm in a bad place--whether curled up on the Ice with a broken foot or standing over my dad's coffin-I don't want a hug and I certainly don't want to be stroked.

Many Christians don't seem to get this.

During pastoral training we learn to talk about ourselves first. …

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