I recently attended an Indigenous Peoples Drum Workshop at my local library. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I took my 9-year-old daughter, Madeleine, and we went with open minds and open hearts. The workshop was informative, powerful and moving. But that’s not what inspired me to write this.
After the circle, I waited to speak to the beautiful Indigenous woman from the Anishinaabe nation who had lead the circle with such power and grace. I wanted to thank her for sharing her story, for sharing the traditions and customs of her people, and for the loving and deeply respectful way she held space for everyone in the circle.
And not surprisingly, as I spoke my words of gratitude, there were tears in my eyes. And so, in mid-sentence, she simply opened her arms to me and gave me a hug.
And this was a hug that changed everything.
For this hug had no agenda.
It was possibly and unexpectedly the most peaceful and profound moment I have ever experienced. I was lovingly and peacefully held in the arms of unconditional acceptance where there was space for me, just as I was.
To just be.
To be sad for all the reasons I couldn’t explain, to feel this outpouring of longing that seemed to always find it’s first expression in tears, to just be a person, a soul – held in complete and divine peace and understanding by another soul, in a library in Caledon.
This hug lasted for moments and it lasted a lifetime — until I felt a slow, healing calm taking over my body.
And as my tears subsided and we stood apart, and said goodbye, I noticed my wise daughter watching me. She had been so uncharacteristically patient and still throughout the entire circle and its aftermath.
She said nothing, just smiled at me and took my hand.
I can tell you that in my work as a teacher and a healer and in my travels in this lifetime, I have experienced many profound moments of connection, of healing, of life-changing insights. And I have given and been the recipient of many loving hugs – as I hope you have also been.
But I have never had a hug like this before. I have never felt so completely accepted and at peace. Or felt my fears, doubts, anger and anxiety just fall away.
It was as if – as we held each other- we were both being held by something greater than ourselves. And we could rest there.
I realize now that I have been granted a glimpse into heaven, into something sacred or holy and larger than me or my life or my purpose or any of the things I think matter.
It’s as if I have been waiting to rest here all my life. And the resonance of this hug hums in me still. I am changed.
So now when I feel afraid because I can’t see the way, when I feel discouraged or impatient, or jealous or mean, I can call up the memory of that hug…and remember that even when I’m not actually being hugged, I am always seen, and loved – I am held.
We all are.
And that is the gift of the hug that changed everything.
“Held by another, held within by our own hearts, or held by a star – despite the pain and confusion and hopelessness and doubt – somehow we are already held. It’s not something we must earn or deserve or frantically search for. Held by the morning light as it comes into a room, by the song of the birds, by the imaginal world. Somehow. Already held.”
– Matt Licata