I was just reading an article in The Washington Post about a visit to Northern Virginia by Mata Amritanandamayi or “Amma” known as the “Hugging Saint.” Thousands of people line up and wait for hours to hug her and to be hugged. The amount of money raised from donations for the hugs support a humanitarian organization that builds schools, provides free health care and more. Millions of people follow her and have been hugged. She continues to hug people for up to twenty-two hours or just as long as the people keep coming. Reading this story of the miracles that people feel as a result of being hugged made me think of something I miss in not being with my NASPA friends and colleagues. What I think I miss most are the hugs.
People who are not in student affairs tease us about always hugging one another. I never let that bother me because there is something special about embracing friends and colleagues. That something may be different for every person just as being embraced by the “Hugging Saint” was about energy to some and unconditional love to others. I have not analyzed what the hugs mean for me, but I do know that I value them and miss them. I leave for the ACUHO-I conference in Anaheim tomorrow and certainly hope that there will be some huggers there.