Among my many nick names acquired over the years—Frinkerdinker, Fry-Dinger (my maiden name is Fridinger), Mario (I’ve been known to exceed the speed limit when driving), Smiles, Shuffles (from dragging my feet in basketball practice), Rebel, and recently Soul Sister—the most endearing and longest lasting is Nutty Hugger.

This moniker was bestowed upon me 25 years ago during the teaming process for an Emmaus weekend (a three-day spiritual retreat) by a dear, dear friend. Forming an instant connection, we bonded over the healing power of hugs and are known to family and friends as the Nutty Huggers—or NH for short (NH1 for me and NH2 for her).

As the name implies, I just love to give and receive hugs–for me a natural and compassionate response. I am aware, though, that there are some folks that don’t want to be hugged and I respect their personal space.

She entered the food bank with what seemed the weight of the world on her shoulders. Although she was very polite, as I went through the list of questions, the cloud over her head appeared grayer and grayer. We prepared her order and since the cart was rather full, we offered to help her load it into her car.

Once finished, this gentle soul gave me and my coworker THE-BEST-HUG. One of the things that made this particular hug so special was I wasn’t expecting it.

I didn’t realize until after she left how cloudy my own heart had been feeling and how much her hug ministered to me.

That’s the thing isn’t it? We just don’t know what challenge or heartbreak someone may be experiencing. Sometimes we don’t even understand the grief, sorrow or anguish of our own heart which is really the remarkable experience of a simple hug . . .

. . . two hearts, meeting as one in pure honor, love and awareness.