I have found a way to love, Love, LOVE Stampede here in Calgary, AB.
Free Hugs. Giving them on street corners on Stampede Saturdays.
That’s what I did today. I was the last hugger standing. I was in for something amazing.
The last man I hugged was covered in drywall plaster, a drunk – but not belligerent – French Canadian. He was hungry for hugs.
He had one, and a few moments later, asked for another. I gave it with grace. He asked again … and again. I moved on. He sat down for a bit, shaking his head and looking touched.
After watching me a while, he came over to me again, when there was a lull in the hug takers. He thanked me for doing what I was doing. He said it did him good. I said, “you are welcome.” And took a good look at his eyes. He took a sudden breath in and put his hand on his heart.
“It hurts?” I asked. He nodded.
And opened his arms for another hug. Given.
“I work so hard he said. And then I drink too much.”
“I’m so glad.” I said “… that you know this”.
He paused. Held out his hand as if for a handshake. I took it. He lifted my hand and kissed it. I thanked him. He breathed in sharp again.
He looked at me. I smiled at him.
“I’m a good man,” he told me.
“I know.” I said. “You are a king”.
He breathed in very hard this time and tears started to run down his cheeks. “My name, he said, “is Nolan. Nolan King. How did you know?”
“I had no idea.” I said. “What your name was.”
He opened his arms and I hugged him again, more like a mother hugs a child. He sobbed.
A while ago I could not have stood there with a sobbing, slightly drunk man in my arms on a busy street.
I am so glad that today, I could.
When he was done, he stepped back and looked at me. “Your eyes are like an angels,” he said.
“Wow.” I said. “What a wonderful compliment…THANK YOU!”
He shook his head. “You are thanking ME?”
“Yes.” I said, and, because I was, “I am so glad I met you.”
His hand on his heart again, he said, “my heart feels so sparkly.”
“I’m glad.” I said. “Take care of it, okay. Get your crown back on your head, okay? Stand tall. You are a King … and your people need you.”
He cried some more. We hugged some more. Time was standing still.
I felt something shift.
“I’m going to go now,” I told him. He nodded and we hugged one more time. “Merci,” he whispered. “Bienvenue,” I whispered. “A dieu.”
And I let go, and walked. Free hugging was done. I wondered at it.
Knowing I could not have done it a while ago.
Because a while ago I carried too much hurt my self. A while ago I might have been too self conscious about what others think of me to have stayed the course. A while ago I might have taken pride for hugging a soul in need. And that kind of pride would have changed things.
I am so glad I could do it. So glad. He needed it so much. I trust he shed some sadness for good…I saw it running down his weathered cheeks.
I trust he will never have to shed those same tears again. I realize there are likely more tears under that layer…and I hope, I pray, I insist … that he will find someone to bear witness to them, when the time comes.
I am not anyone special. I think we can all do – for each other – what I had the chance to do for Nolan King. If we have shed enough of our own hurt, the love, compassion, intuitive knowing – of what a person needs – is there, underneath, and we are happy, so happy, to let it flow.
Sometimes I need someone to do this for me … hold space, reflect my self back to me … “It hurts coming out, doesn’t it? … I see your goodness … I see your divinity”.
And the tears course down my cheeks. Opening the way for my goodness, my divinity, to shine forth for the sake of others.
Peace be with you Nolan King.
Peace be with you King Nolan.