January 21st is …

Normally I pay no attention to pseudo holidays, those days designated by one organization or another to commemorate this thing or that event, except chocolate ice cream soda day. But that is a different matter all together. But today’s holiday really grabbed me.

Today’s holiday celebrates neither a thing, nor a person, nor an event, but a process. This process has impressive benefits and few if any costs. Scientists studying this process have detected quantifiable improvements in participants’ physical and psychological health. It measurably reduces levels the stress hormone cortisol and raises the hormone oxytocin which facilitates feelings of trust and attachment. It takes only a few seconds, but doing this longer and more frequently is normal. It is inexpensive, safe, and effective.

Complete strangers can benefit from this process. Thus some people have been known to stand at shopping malls and offer this process for free to any and all takers.

And romantic partners benefit significantly more. One respected sex therapist recommends couples engage in this process standing on their own two feet, neither supporting their partner nor being supported, focusing deeply on themselves, until they thoroughly relax. He writes about doing this process with his wife for ten to twenty minutes, sometimes even longer.

In our media oriented society where sending texts and email or updating one’s status on Facebook qualifies as a friendly connection, I can understand why this process warrants its own special day.

Two children huggingWith whom might you engage in this process
to physically express God’s love?

For everything there is a season,
and a time for every matter under heaven: …
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
– Ecclesiastes 3:1, 5b (NRSV)


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