In 1990, I was living in Rochester, NY as a newlywed with my then-husband. He was on Discourses and gifted me with Discourses for my birthday, 5 months after we were married. I don’t recall asking for them, but didn’t mind. I had done Insight but knew little about MSIA. I was on a different, longtime, committed spiritual path at the time.
My husband and I planned a weekend trip to New York City that winter. He wanted to receive his next MSIA initiation and attend a J-R seminar. My father was ill and I wanted to take him to a healer in Brooklyn. That Friday, driving down to NYC, we experienced hurricane-level wind and rains. I remember how scared I felt on the road as the wind easily pushed our car back and forth on the flooded highway, veering the car towards other lanes of cars, as the rain ferociously threw itself against our windshield.
Upon arriving in New York, I had a strong, inexplicable desire to go to the J-R seminar. My husband told me it was a closed event, open only to MSIA initiates. I firmly told him I would be going. We arrived at the event with no time to spare. When we entered the event function room, J-R’s staff approached us to say “Hi.” My husband explained to them that I wasn’t an initiate and asked if I could attend the event. They responded with, “Write a letter to J-R saying why you want to attend.” With the stressful drive down, I wasn’t feeling great. To get myself into a better space, I sang every happy song I could think of, and worked myself and the letter into a positive frame.
Then J-R arrived and his staff sent him in our direction. I saw him and extended the letter out towards him. He brushed my hand with the letter aside and, instead, reached out for me, giving me the longest hug I’ve ever had. It felt so long that I got really squirmy, thinking, “Who is this stranger hugging me?”
I knew nothing about J-R hugs. All I know is that before that hug, I wasn’t in MSIA. After the hug, I was. That was over 30 years ago. The way I see it now, that was a million dollar hug.