It was New Year’s Eve, the last night of camp. Well, early New Year’s morning by this point. I was starting to wander around saying goodnight to people, and goodbye in many cases, as we’d all be heading home the next day. In the dance hall there was a large group of kids (it’s a family-friendly camp) whose parents had evidently decided not to sweat the whole bedtime thing, given the occasion. They ranged from fairly small to probably early teens. Many I knew, many I didn’t.
Anyway, one of them that I did know heard that I was leaving and ran across the hall to give me a goodbye hug. And somehow the entire herd of them got swept up in his enthusiasm, and I was engulfed in one giant swarming hug that involved probably at least 15 kids. Pretty silly.
But then, after they all broke off and let me breathe again, one small boy complained that he didn’t really get a proper hug, because there were too many people in the way. Well, I’m not one to refuse hugs to adorable children, so naturally I remedied that situation.
That’s when something a little bit magical happened, as every one of those noisy, bouncy, up-way-too-late-at-night kids quietly lined up, single file, behind that first boy and waited for their turn to give and get their own hugs.
Our happy, friendly little scene had suddenly just expanded into something much greater. It wasn’t about us anymore — like I said, I didn’t even know some of these children — but there was Love around that needed to be expressed, and there we were to do it. So we did. It was so sweet I was nearly crying by the end, through all the smiles.
And then the moment passed, the children all scampered off, and I headed off to bed in a slight daze.
There aren’t many times Divine Mother reaches down and gives you a big hug without even bothering to be metaphorical about it, and it’s been a dear and comforting memory every time I’ve thought back to it over the last couple years. And in a way, it’s even sweeter now that I’m a monk, and especially as I watch our little band of brahmacharis growing larger. It’s a reminder that there will always be more people to love, and more than enough love to share around. We just need to remember where it’s coming from, and be open to letting it flow through us.
From Swamiji’s book, Affirmations for Self-Healing:
The whole world is my home, and the human race, my family.
With God’s kindness I embrace all men.