A Prayer Shawl
– what’s that?
By Ann Goodwin
When Ann and Michael Goodwin came to live in Penrhiwceiber earlier this year, Ann introduced us to the Prayer Shawl Ministry.
This is her story.About four years ago, when reading The Canadian Churchman, an Anglican newspaper, I came across an
exciting article about the Prayer Shawl Ministry. Here was a Ministry that suited me to a T, as I am a compulsive knitter and
there are only so many things one can knit for oneself and family. My husband and I belonged to St. Saviour's in Penticton, British
Columbia, many of whose parishioners were sick and needed prayers. Being a member of the Prayer Chain wasn't
enough for me, but praying whilst knitting a shawl and then being able to give a comforting tangible proof of my prayers made me feel
so good. Since then I have made over 80 shawls or lap rugs and have given them to parishioners in Penticton and, for the last
three years, in Lake Chapala, Jalisco, Mexico. And since April 28 this year, here in Penrhiwceiber, to members of St. Winifred's.
Now I will explain what a Prayer Shawl is: It can be of any shape, any size, any colour, knitted, crocheted, woven, quilted. I
usually know for whom I am making the shawl, but sometimes, when halfway through, someone else may need
it more urgently. To create a prayerful situation one might play a CD of relaxing music, burn some incense or candles. Hold
the yarn and needles and pray over them, for God to help with the knitting and that it may be easy, especially if one has
arthritis. I usually cast on an amount of stitches divisible by 3, \approximately 63 stitches. That way I can invoke the Trinity for
every stitch, remembering for whom I pray. Shawls can be made for anyone in crisis: in cases of grief, illness, divorce, difficult
pregnancy, facing surgery; or to celebrate a Wedding, Baptism or Confirmation. When finished the shawl is taken to
church to be blessed, and then presented, or taken, to the person for whom it was made. Shawls cannot be purchased or sold;
they are given freely. A person may use their own materials or a church may provide the money or parishioners
may make donations of yarn or money. Some of my shawls have made the person feel instantly better. One lady living with
cancer visibly looked better as soon as she donned it. She took that shawl everywhere, especially when getting chemo treatments.
She did die about a year afterwards and wanted her shawl to be recycled and given to someone else as she said it had
so much power in it. There is a website with ideas, patterns, prayers, testimonies, and a list of other churches with a
Ministry: www.shawlministry.com. There is also a Yahoo group where people around the world can help each
other. Go to Yahoo Groups, and click on join. To see some of my shawls in Mexico go to www.standrewsparish.net and
click on shawls and banners. About 3 years ago the Shawl Ministry emailed me and suggested that I enter an open
contest to design a Prayer Shawl. The best 38 shawls would be printed in a new book called the Prayer Shawl Companion. When I
sent in my shawl, they phoned me and said thank you very much, and will you send in the pattern. Whoops, I thought, what
pattern!!! I never use a pattern, and of the 80 odd shawls I have made there is not a duplicate. But I did, finally, manage to
duplicate, and write instructions for, the one I had sent in. I call it the Mexican Rainbow, and it is round with bands of rainbow
colours, each colour in a different pattern. After the book was printed, the shawls were given out to deserving recipients.
Imagine my joy when they told me that mine was on tour, with a book signing and workshops throughout America.
Link to the original article: http://www.churchinwales.org.uk/Llandaff/information/croeso/index.html
Please note this link directs you to a 14Mb .pdf file - we are not responsible for broken links.