In the presence of angels

There’s been a lot of research done about the health benefits of hugging and being hugged. At a recent Senior Expo, a booth offering “Free Hugs!” had the longest line of all the exhibits. It was suggested that hugs can lower stress, strengthen immunity, and ease pain, both physical and emotional (see Psychology Today, November 4, 2011). All of which is good news, especially when seen as hinting at a deeper, spiritual reality.

Hugging has always come naturally to me. Maybe it’s because I come from California. As many of you will know, hugging out there is almost a pastime. But not everyone wants to be hugged—least of all in fast-moving New York City, most days. There are even some people who find hugging offensive. I used to feel sad when my hugs weren’t reciprocated, when I got an air kiss and a stiffened response instead of an embrace. But a line from Mary Baker Eddy’s Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896 always comes to my rescue whenever I feel unloved or unlovable. It’s in an article titled “Angels.” In it, Mrs. Eddy first set the stage by comparing the traditional view of angels (feathers) with the scientific view revealed in Christian Science (love that comes from divine Love, or God). And then she wrote: “Oh, may you feel this touch,—it is not the clasping of hands, nor a loved person present; it is more than this: it is a spiritual idea that lights your path!” (p. 306).

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