But later during the discussion, we talked about the parts of our own church service, and her response was poignant. She loves passing the peace. She loves the hugs.
She is a widow. The mother of six children grown and gone. She lives independently in her own home.
Passing the peace can be controversial. I tend to stay in my pew and shake the hands (or hug) the people around me. Others roam the aisles. I think of this lady, tiny and frail. If she's in my vicinity, I do leave my pew to give her a hug. She always approaches me with outstretched arms and when I hug her, she says, "Oh Debby!" in such a glad way that always makes me feel as if I am, at that moment, the most important person to her. It's sweet, and it always touches my heart.
Some folks cannot stand the wanderers. They consider it a disruption. One woman even sneeringly referred to it as 'Howdy Doody Time' (which did make me laugh).
It doesn't matter to me, really. I like my church and the people in it. I'm also reserved, so I see both sides of the controversy. Last night, I realized how important those hugs can be.
Her children live far away. Those hugs my friend gets on Sunday are likely the only hugs she receives regularly, so they have to last her the week.
I made sure to gently hug her before I left, one of those big enveloping hugs. She hugged me back, and she said, with her usual gladness, "Oh Debby!"