Hug-less Hugging

Recent headlines:  Hugs Are Forbidden!  Just Say No to Hugs!  Will Hugs survive Covid-19? 

The loss of hugs is hurtful.  Yet for a long time, I’ve engaged in hugging without hugging, a practice I call Thunder-shirting.

A Thunder-shirt is a garment for dogs who fear loud noises like thunder and firecrackers. The shirt applies firm pressure to the dog’s nerve endings and soothes them.  It’s like swaddling an infant.

When I interact with people in distress, whether they’re sad, angry, or other, I can’t wrap them up in a burrito-like swaddle.  Now I can’t even hug them.  So I Thunder-shirt.  This means I assertively hold their well-being in heart and mind.  I press on frazzled nerves with socially distanced yet in-your-face compassion.  Sometimes I Thunder-shirt silently, through intention.  Sometimes I Thunder-shirt verbally, with statements like “I am convinced there is a wonderful solution for you!”  Opportunities to Thunder-shirt are endless.

I explained Thunder-shirting in church one Sunday, wondering if the concept was too weird, if people would understand.  After the sermon, one of our Practitioners, Linda, emailed me…

There have been many troubling things about this pandemic.  The saddest to me, is when quarantine rules prevent families from supporting loved ones in the hospital.  This was Linda’s situation.

Her husband, Ted, had been struggling with his health.  He was going into the hospital for a procedure.  Linda couldn’t be with him to provide love and comfort.  So she emailed me to say, “I Thunder-shirted him.”

She Thunder-shirted by sending a picture to Ted’s phone, a picture to have and to hold; a picture that would enfold both of them. It was Linda and Ted on their 25th wedding anniversary. 

In the picture, I see two souls tenderly holding the mystery of being like a tiny bird.  They know that love is both real and a risk; that happily-ever-after is riddled with impermanence; and that impermanence is a powerful teacher.

I have seen Ted and Linda use impermanence for good.  During the beginnings of Ted’s health challenge, Linda emailed, “Ted and I wake up grateful every morning, for one more day together.”  That’s a sermon in a sentence, the meaning of life.  Love is more precious because of impermanence.  “Without a hurt, the heart is hollow….”


Ted’s procedure was a success and he is recovering well at home.  I’m sure the Thunder-shirting-at-a-distance helped.  The power of firmly applied love transcends all earthly conditions.

Linda and Ted made me wonder…  Maybe as we Thunder-shirt one another, we become aware that we too are Thunder-shirted.  Holiness wraps us in a seamless garment where love and loss become One.  Holiness presses on our endings and our beginnings.  Then rather than lulling us to sleep, Holiness awakens us.  We open our eyes to a Truth beyond facts; to the Grace beyond Grace that holds us always.

This entry was posted in Love Prevails and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Hug-less Hugging

  1. Diane Klimczak says:

    Thank you for a wonderful idea. Hugs are one of the things this current situation I miss the most. I miss Service on on Sundays at our Center CSL Simi Valley. I would get all the hugs I could soak up and give out. I also volunteered on Wednesday Doing office work and so miss my time with Dr. Susan and her wonderful warm loving long hugs. I’m also so grateful for all the Centers that have wonderful articles and their services also on Facebook Live. We will all get through this and we will continue to hold each other in love and light.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s