I hugged the Pope 4 times. It was consensual. I asked permission. As he granted my request, his smile reached all the way to his eyes.
Want to know how it felt?
Imagine you are in the most comfortable bed upon which you have ever rested. Your body is perfectly cradled and supported.
The room is a temperature that is soothing.
The fragrance of the space reminds you of long forgotten lovely experiences.
You are happy and content and your heart has just signaled your brain to allow your lungs to make a great big sigh and any residue of stress vanishes.
Just when you thought this was as good as it could get, someone for whom you have a great love and who in turn has loved you unconditionally, enters and pulls the softest blanket over you and your body releases into an awareness of love and presence as never before. You accept it knowing that there is nothing else to do. Nothing else is expected nor required.
That. Is. How. It. Felt.
Growing up Catholic, I was taught that the Pope had a “hotline” to God.
I was taught that he was infallible.
I was taught that he had all the answers.
To a child’s mind, this was a magical thing. A human with so much power!
As I grew, I began to wonder why there were no female popes.
No one has an answer for this. (Actually there was once a female Pope but she got pregnant and the discovery that “she” was indeed not a “he” was quite the tragedy. She has been erased from papal history https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Joan.
I never dreamed of meeting any popes.
I am a “lapsed” Catholic, as they say.
I lapsed for many reasons, many of which had to do with the unequal treatment of women and the scandals that have come to light.
Meeting The Holy See has not “unlapsed” me.
I believe that Papa Francesco reminded my body that a great love and a great capacity for deeper love is already within me. He reminded me of my humanity.
Meeting Papa Francesco has embolden me to continue my work to end domestic violence.
I am emboldened because life is unpredictable and there is nothing else (other than my family) that deserves my full and complete attention.
I was in the room with about 12 other people, all of whom were positively engaged in ending violence.
Our work brought us to the Vatican and we are now part of an educational campaign to address violence to girls and women and other issues especially affecting females such as, climate change.
I have lots of great photo memories and the memory of 4 papal hugs is indelibly engraved on my heart. It has infected my genetic material in a way which cannot be explained or undone.
I hugged a Pope and I loved it.
Onward to more work. Onward to ending domestic violence in one more home.
As Papa Francesco said, “One more” as he hugged me for the 4th time and blessed my work.
If we should ever meet, remember to hug me because you are one hug away from the Papa Francesca.
Always on your side,
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