She waited in line for hours. And as she did, she watched the crowds; some of them smiling, some of them chanting quietly. There was much excitement in the convention center. As the line moved along, she noticed the tables selling merchandise and gifts. Finally she arrived at the foot of the stage and some handlers walked her up the stairs.

Sitting on the stage smiling was the Hugging Saint. The woman reached out to her and Amma embraced her in her warm, Amma arms. And then the woman whispered in the Hugging Saint’s ear, “Why do you lie to your followers? Why do you tell them that when there’s volcanos and earthquakes that the Earth is angry and to envision white petals of peace floating to the ground? These people come to you for guidance and edification and you give them trite, flaky fairytales. How do you sleep at night?”

The Hugging Saint started to recoil but the woman held her tighter and continued, “Do you see how many people are here for you? They’re seekers. Some are broken. Some may have mental health issues. You predicted nuclear war and said that no child younger then five will live to adulthood after the year 2012 A.D. It’s 2018 now. Don’t gurus have calendars?”

The woman hugged the Hugging Saint tighter and again asked, “Why do you lie to these people? Why do you charge people $20 for a Hershey bar? Where does the money go? People say that it goes to charities but you’re raking in the bread and yet there’s no real information out there about who’s being helped.”

Amma’s handlers started to walk towards the woman but the woman turned and stared at them and when she did, the handlers stopped mid-step and didn’t move again. She turned back and whispering very quietly into the saint’s ear she said, “I know why you do this. Because I cooked you in the oven of my mind. But it’s time for you to no longer hug people who are truly crying out for help. And it’s time for me to hug you.”

And with that, Shirley Partridge hugged Amma with all her love as Amma turned to dust, swirling on the stage and slowly floating down the steps.


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