Hug your babies, however old they are.

“Hug your babies. however old they are.”

The baby I know best these days is Ben. He’s 10.5 months. I’m pretty sure he knows me. When I see him, I hug him. After making noises, making faces, and clapping. 

The baby I know next best is his mom. I hug her whenever I see her. And tell her I love her. And when I see her brother. And when I see their mom. 

Every so often, I post phrases like “hug your babies. however old they are.” So do my chaplain colleagues. When our hospital experience have reminded us that the opportunity to hug our babies runs out unexpectedly and unpredictably, we don’t want to share details. We do want to remind ourselves and others that as important as the outcomes of football (or soccer) games may be, as frustrated as we may be with the coffee we spilled or the poor service we receive from this person or that, hugging our babies matters. Because our babies, these human beings, matter.

I’m aware that there are often relational challenges, conflicts, choices that create distance more powerful than physical distance. I know that. I understand that. I’m aware that there are seasons where talking is, or seems, impossible. I know that humans do unspeakable things to each other.

I’m a chaplain. I bear witness to hard times.

Yet I understand, almost every shift, that conversations cease to be possible at inopportune times. And I understand that each of these individuals, and us, are deeply loved by God.

I’m not a therapist, I’m not a counselor. I don’t have the three-step plan for mending relationships. I know, often, that we actually know what we could do.

And I offer this word: “hug your babies. however old they are.”