The Power of a Hug

Early Friday mornings are reserved for Daddy/Dave bonding time.

My duties as morning dog walker are relieved each Friday so that Dave can demonstrate to his male person that he has adequately kept Conway Junior High free of any squirrel, rabbit or cat (especially cat) shenanigans and tomfoolery. While they peruse the area, I jump into the shower and head to daily mass.

Attending daily mass regularly has been something I have done for a number of years, as I have noted in this blog.

But one particular Friday morning in 2021 was different.

It was the Friday after the Thursday that really sucked.

I don’t remember what was read; I don’t remember the priest’s homily. I do remember feeling the wetness of tears as I went through the motions, hoping for, at most, a miracle, or at least a bit of relief.

After the final blessing, the congregants spilled into the aisle, standing in line to greet the priests. For some reason, there were two priests present that day.

I felt a gentle internal nudge, “Go talk to Father Desam.”

I resisted at first; I didn’t know Father, a priest from India. Sure, I enjoyed his homilies, but would he understand?

With a sigh of resignation, knowing that doing nothing would result in nothing, I anxiously approached him, “Can I talk to you?”

The floodgates opened; my face was gripped in anguish. Immediately, he led me away from the crowd.

“What’s wrong?”

“I…I…have…P..Parkinson’s. “

He said very little to me. I mean, what can you say? This was God’s will? This is a test? God can turn this lemon into lemonade?

I’ve heard b.s. like this all my life; it’s not helpful at all.

He offered two things.

First, he told me that Saint Pope John Paul II suffered from Parkinson’s. “Perhaps you can read about him.”

Second, he gave me a hug.

I had never been hugged by a priest before.

Please let’s refrain from the abuse scandal.

I know very little Latin, but there is a term that is pertinent to this story: in persona Christi. This means in the person of Christ. In the Catholic Church, the priests are to be in persona Christi, or to act as Christ, especially pertaining to the mass.

But, and I’m sure Father Desam knows this, it doesn’t have to stop there. When I received that hug, it felt as if Jesus was hugging me, grace filled relief necessary for my first steps as a person with Parkinson’s.

Having received a new assignment in Little Rock, Father Desam will be leaving Conway in a few months. His contagious smile, warm demeanor, and thought provoking teaching, not to mention his “dad jokes”, will be a fond memories that many at St. Joseph’s will hold dear. For me, his small, seemingly insignificant gesture will be a treasure that will not only carry me throughout this journey, but will also be a holy gift to lavish on others as I navigate the ups and downs of Life.


One thought on “The Power of a Hug

  1. Thank you for sharing your heart and your experience with us. You are such a gifted writer and makes me feel like I am right there with you.


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