And now's the time to get one.
Amma, the hugging saint (aka Sri Mata Amritanandamayi, the "Mother of Immortal Bliss"), will be handing out hugs at the Yorktown Mall this Wednesday through Friday.
If you've never been in the presence of a living saint, now's your chance.
Here's an excerpt from my 2005 article about her:
All I remember about my first trip to see Amma, in 2002, was that there seemed to be a lot of hippies in Lisle. I thought Amma’s handlers were somewhat rough when they guided me to receive a hug from her, and I didn’t feel much during the hug itself. This trip was a lot different.....
.......As I got closer, the handlers started to position me into place--and they were surprisingly gentle! Everything is choreographed carefully so that there’s very little space between hugs. I was kindly handed a Kleenex to wipe the sweat off my face, and I got choked up as I saw a family getting a group hug in front of me.
When it was my turn, Amma pulled me to her and I felt something inside me start to melt. It was a real hug, full of compassion and love, and lasted for some time as she patted my back and chanted into my ear something that sounded like “amamamamamamama.” I thought about my late mother and recent heartache (suffice to say I haven’t felt lovable in some time) and let go. Amma smelled of jasmine and roses. After some time she stopped chanting and pressed a rose petal and Hershey’s Kiss into my hand (the kid in front of me had gotten an apple). She may have put sandalwood paste on my third eye; I’m not sure. Crying, I moved away from the stage. One of the white-clad handlers had the sweetest look on her face as she handed me the Kleenex box (they’re very big on the Kleenex).
After awhile I stopped my blubbering and composed myself and looked for my friends. I experienced that rare feeling not only of being exactly where I should be, but also that even rarer one: that everything would be OK.
Here are details about Amma's current stint in Chicago:
Wed. June 30:
Morning program: 11:00 am to 5:00 pm approx.
There will be no evening program on June 30
Thurs. July 01:
Morning program: 10:00 am to 2:00 pm approx.
Evening program: 7:30 pm to 2:00 am approx.
Fri. July 02:
Morning program 10 am to 2:00 pm approx
Evening program [Devi Bhava]: 7:00 pm to 5:00am (next day) approx
Devi Bhava - Please refer to FAQ's for a detailed explanation of Devi Bhava.
All programs [Morning - individual blessings by Amma, Evening - Devotional singing followed by individual blessings] are free and open to public.Those who wish to get individual blessings from Amma are requested to see our volunteers at the entrance to the program hall to obtain token numbers.
The Westin Lombard Yorktown Center
70 Yorktown Center, Lombard, IL 60148
Telephone: (630) 719-8000
More info here.