Really I should do something more appropriate for Ash Wednesday, but since we had our "dying" experience on Tuesday, I decided a little levity was in order. So...you've all seen the "Free Hug" video that's been circulating for the past few months. (If not, see it below...and/or read the little summary that follows.) Here's the contest: What would the free hug campaign look like if this guy were a Catholic taking the new evangelization in a new direction? What would the sign say, and what would happen? Have fun -- and say a prayer for IC's speedy recovery, lest you be subjected to more rambling posts like this one.
The Free Hug campaign in a nutshell: So this guy, Juan Mann, is returning from Australia. Here's what he says on his website, http://www.freehugcampaign.com/:
He started doing his "Free Hugs" once a week. After two years, one member of a local rock group began videotaping him, eventually compiling a video, setting it to music, and posting it to YouTube, where it became an instant hit. With more than 10 million views, not to mention publicity on Oprah, Good Morning America, Fox News, etc., other people around the world began to get into the act. Now there are hundreds of "free hugs" groups all around the world, including one that is trying it out in mixed Jewish/Arab neighborhoods in Israel.
I'd been living in London when my world turned upside down and I'd had to come home. By the time my plane landed back in Sydney, all I had left was a carry on bag full of clothes and a world of troubles. No one to welcome me back, no place to call home. I was a tourist in my hometown.
Standing there in the arrivals terminal, watching other passengers meeting their waiting friends and family, with open arms and smiling faces, hugging and laughing together, I wanted someone out there to be waiting for me. To be happy to see me. To smile at me. To hug me.
So I got some cardboard and a marker and made a sign. I found the busiest pedestrian intersection in the city and held that sign aloft, with the words "Free Hugs" on both sides.
And for 15 minutes, people just stared right through me. The first person who stopped, tapped me on the shoulder and told me how her dog had just died that morning. How that morning had been the one year anniversary of her only daughter dying in a car accident. How what she needed now, when she felt most alone in the world, was a hug. I got down on one knee, we put our arms around each other and when we parted, she was smiling.
Everyone has problems and for sure mine haven't compared. But to see someone who was once frowning, smile even for a moment, is worth it every time.
The Ironic Catholic is not overly impressed by any of this...which I can understand...it's a little "Precious Moments" sentimental...but I find it moving. Yeah, yeah, peace is more than just a hug away...but after waking up to news of the latest suicide bombing every morning for the past few years, people hugging rather than blowing one another up seems like a refreshing change of pace.