Ecclesiastes 3 : 5 … a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
Carrying on from last week, there is a strict code of conduct that must be adhered to between participants on the course. One rule is that there is to be no physical contact between prisoner and visitor, other than a handshake. No hugging! For very good reasons, I’m sure you will agree.
During one of the sessions, the woman telling her story (I will call her Patti for this illustration), became quite upset. The emotional telling of her story affected every person in the room. There was hardly a dry eye by the time she finished. The facilitator asked if anyone had any questions for Patti, and there was a heavy silence in the room. Eventually one big burly prisoner said, “I’d really like to give you a hug, but that’s not permitted. You are the bravest woman I’ve ever met.” There were murmurs of agreement around the room.
Moments later as the room descended into thoughtful silence, the facilitator announced that we would break for morning tea. “And just this once,” he added, “with permission from the Chaplin and Patti, and within the confines of this room, anyone who would like to give Pattie a hug, may do so.”
I’ve seen this go the other way too. One of the prisoners became quite distraught while telling his life story, and afterwards, one of the female participants asked the facilitator if she could give him a hug. He later said it was being hugged by his grandmother who had passed away while he was ‘inside’.
Patti later told me that those hugs that morning helped to heal something inside her. Who would have expected that a victim of crime would find healing inside a prison, amongst prisoners?
… a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing…