Probably like you, my email and mailbox are bulging with reports on current political, environmental, social, and technological happenings. Each week my heart swings like a pendulum between indignation and hope. As I tune into the daily news reports, I often feel like flotsam tossed on a relentless sea of turmoil and strife. I continue to take action such as calling my congressperson, writing a letter to the editor, or joining a march, and I’ve joined a neighborhood political action group that meets face-to-face on a regular basis.
In the midst of this continuing existential storm I opened a very special email that not only warmed my heart, it rekindled my hope in humanity.
The email shared a story called “The Rescuing Hug.” (The original story was reprinted as “A Sister’s Helping Hand,” by Nancy Sheehan, “Reader’s Digest” — May 1996; condensed from Worcester Telegram & Gazette, November 18, 1995.) The story tells about the first week of life of a set of twins. It was standard hospital practice, at that time, to isolate each baby in order to reduce the risk of infection. One of the twins was thriving but the other was not expected to live. An on-duty nurse fought against the hospital rules and was successful in placing both babies in single shared incubator. Once they were alongside one another, the healthier of the two threw an arm over her sister in what might be described as an endearing embrace. The smaller baby’s heart rate stabilized and her temperature rose to normal. Now, more than 22 years later, the twins are grown up and are thriving.
As I read this account, I feel renewed with the deep, deep knowing that we are a loving species. Our natural state is a tender one. Helping one another is as innate as breathing. This drive to love, protect, and assist one another is programmed into our DNA.
My main take-away regarding the outcome of these young souls is the knowledge that when we become isolated in a culture of fear, our very heart rhythms are compromised. More important than ever, in these fiercely turbulent times, is the need for confidence that something substantially good lies beneath the chaos. As we search for this assurance we are called to avoid wrapping ourselves in silos of isolation. Rather, it is a time to reach out and touch others and be touched by them. Together, we can support each other in filling our world with loving acts of care for each other. The world depends on our love.
– Justine Willis Toms