Tishrei 4 5776 – September 17 2015


Sometimes a cupcake, in the right context, goes further than an olive branch that you did not even know you needed.

S. and I messed up our friendship before it even began. The perils of digital reality is that when you meet someone on, say, facebook, and develop conversations and perhaps even a crush, misunderstandings happen, lack of nuance or tone and fights can fester and hurts inflicted for no good reason at all.

It was many months and I forgot about it.

But yesterday S. reached out to me and asked when I’ll be home to receive ‘something that he has for me for the new year.’

sueHe showed up a few hours later with a smile and a cupcake that had a handmade ‘shana tova’ card on it in the shape of an apple and we sat down to get to know each other, warmed by this gesture of reconciliation. I realized I was not all that special  – he explained that I was indeed unique but one of the 30 cupcake getters – some on his ‘Jew friend’ list, some with whom some bridges had to be rebuilt, and some in need of real reconciliation.  But there we were, a friendship found when lost at sea and who knows where or what but at least a rift, needless, was amended.  There’s no knowing what is the impact of some acts of kindness on the psyche, on the fabric of our world.

These are the days of reconciliation.

Some rifts are raw and rough and require much much more than cupcakes. Even those, when possible, deserve, demand, some sort of attempt at – at least – owning the responsibility for each party’s part in what has gone wrong and perhaps even a brave attempt to sit and face the fury.  These are the more serious casualties of our human interactions.

But many rifts,  like very minor car accidents, are more doable and could use a gesture of above and beyond kindness to try and make things right. The cupcake tour that S. took on to start the year taught me so much of how to do this right.

And once the cupcake happened, came the hug. A real one.

Hugging meditation is the fancy name for this basic human action that when done correctly humbles us and touches our soul.

Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh has this recipe for the perfect reconciliation hug:

“When we hug, our hearts connect and we know that we are not separate beings. Hugging with mindfulness and concentration can bring reconciliation, healing, understanding, and much happiness. The practice of mindful hugging has helped so many to reconcile with each other- fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, friends and friends, and so many others.

We may practice hugging meditation with a friend, our daughter, our father, our partner or even with a tree. To practice, we first bow and recognize the presence of each other. Then we can enjoy three deep conscious breaths to bring ourselves fully there. We then may open your arms and begin hugging. Holding each other for three in-and-out breaths. With the first breath, we are aware that we are present in this very moment and we are happy. With the second breath, we are aware that the other is present in this moment and we are happy as well. With the third breath, we are aware that we are here together, right now on this earth, and we feel deep gratitude and happiness for our togetherness. We then may release the other person and bow to each other to show our thanks.

When we hug in such a way, the other person becomes real and alive. We do not need to wait until one of us is ready to depart for a trip, we may hug right now and receive the warmth and stability of our friend in the present moment. Hugging can be a deep practice of reconciliation. During the silent hugging, the message can come out very clear: “Darling, you are precious to me. I am sorry I have not been mindful and considerate. I have made mistakes. Allow me to begin anew. I Promise.”

Bake a cupcake, extend an olive branch, give a hug, create a gesture – face to face is best, an email or txt is a decent way to restart the conversation. Avoid when possible conducting this virtually. It’s where so much of our emotional health gets lost.

Who do you reach out to today?  Who would you want to hear from today in the act of mending? (and can you be the one to surprise them and reach out?)

Prepent  33. Every day is precious. Every hug will take you home.

Even if you are the one reaching out to and giving yourself a really long hug.


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