Stories and Inspirations
Shawl Stories February 2008 - Dear Janet& Vicky, I was approaching yesterday with some trepidation. That afternoon, my breast-cancer surgeon was to remove the bandages covering a recent mastectomy, he result of cancer which appeared, after 16 years, on the site of a previous cancer. At 8:30 a.m., the doorbell rang. My husband flew down the stairs to greet the UPS delivery man holding a soft package which was clearly not a gift of flowers, food or books, Imagine my surprise and pleasure to find this beautiful prayer shawl sent from Florida by former students and loving friends. Yesterday turned out to be a fine day. The sun shone, the weather was warm(er) and I wore the shawl to the hospital and later to the home of friends for a fish-chowder supper. I, who have knit only potholders in my day and do not crochet, am now looking forward to knitting a shawl for a friend who may benefit from all the love and well wishes knitted and purled into every stitch. Thank you for founding this wonderful prayer shawl ministry. With warm regards, Carole A. Hartzman - Bedford, Nova Scotia January 2008 - Yesterday, my husband picked up a parcel from the post office. Upon opening the box, my first response was total surprise and then as I opened the envelope inside I was quickly set to tears which came from deep inside. Tears of warmth, love and joy - not unlike the same tears that flowed when I saw the face of my first born child. My reaction surprised me. I don't know why the effect felt of the same strength and dimension until I finished reading my friend's enclosed note. It was a gift of love, prayer and friendship that I hadn't realized possible for a very long while. Times have been so very tough for such a long while and the latest illness seemed to be yet another endless road to travel and admittedly pure exhaustion was setting in. In the scheme of things, it is all barely nothing compared to what other's most assuredly endure BUT the importance of my friend's caring shone like a beacon and filled me up with such 'joy' that there are no words that can describe the warmth, the love, and the gratitude that was immediately flowing through me. The closest I come to repeating those feelings is when I wrap the prayers shawl around me....which is quite often during the day! My cup indeed runneth over with unexpected things and the GIFT of friends like Carol that God has bestowed upon me. THANK YOU Carol and all of the women of Our Lady of Divine Love Church in Pendleton for being 'you'! God Bless each and everyone for the support, love and prayers that they continually bestow upon others. Charlotte Belland - Prescott, Ontario, Canada A VERY SPECIAL NEED by Laura Berglund Member of Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church - Afton, MN I looked at the bags of yarn we had brought home from great-grandma's house after we moved her to a nursing home. Even though we had given some away, there were several bags still sitting on the guest room floor. I didn't know why I had saved that yarn for myself -- mostly baby yarns; they were so soft, so fine and delicate in their pastel baby colors. Why did I keep them? I had not knit since my sons were little; I had not crocheted since I was in high school. Through the years, I had even been too busy to knit anything for our grandchildren. I decided to leave the yarn sit in the corner and think about it another day. Three weeks later I had an email from a church member. She and another friend planned to attend a seminar to learn how to start a Prayer Shawl Ministry. The email was an invitation to join the ministry by attending a meeting when they returned. The wheels began to turn -- I had all this leftover yarn, I had some knitting needles and I needed to make better use of my time! But could I remember how to knit? Could I actually make a shawl suitable to be given to someone in need -- someone ill, depressed, grieving or otherwise hurting? I dug out the knitting book and made some 'practice runs'. Actually, it was a little like riding a bicycle, 'once you learn . . .'. I did go to the meeting where we were given the pattern/s for the shawls. There were several knitters/crocheters at the meeting; they were enthused and happy to be a part of the ministry. They were not concerned that I was 'out of practice' and they shared what they knew regarding the prayer shawl ritual by telling 'how it can touch the heart and warm the body of the receiver'. You see, as the shawl is being knit, many prayers are said for the ultimate recipient. Even though the knitter does not know who will get the shawl, prayers are said in advance for that person. It was suggested to play soft music and/or light candles while knitting, as well. So I started a shawl; I thought the pastel yarns might be suitable for a young girl who needed hospitalization or comfort for some other reason. The shawl was done in white and pastel stripes and was knitted on large needles which gave it a 'lacy' effect. I did sometimes play soft music and light some candles while knitting. One of my petitions asked that God would find a special need for this shawl because it was not 'typical'. When it was done, it was very soft and I felt a gentle warmth when I held it in my hands. I thought it really looked more like a baby shawl than a girl's shawl, and I took it to the next meeting with some fear that it would never be used. Shawls made by the other ladies were heavier and sturdier; they had used colors suitable for adults. Actually, I thought my shawl looked a bit anemic next to the others on the table. A friend from the group showed me how to fold the shawl and tie it with pastel ribbons; we attached a pre-written prayer including: 'that this shawl would warm the body and heart of this Child of God for whom we pray. . .' and 'may the soul find rest in Your arms. . .'. Then we covered the folded shawl with a transparent plastic bag to keep it clean and intact. I thought it surely would be a long time before that shawl was needed by anyone. Just over a month later I received an email from a leader of the Prayer Shawl Ministry. They had requests for two special needs prayer shawls -- first, they chose a violet one for a mother who had delivered a stillborn child; the second request was for the stillborn infant -- a soft shawl of white and pastel stripes made of baby yarn and tied with pastel ribbons; a shawl in which to wrap the stillborn baby boy for the funeral! 'May the soul find rest in Your arms'! Fall 2007 Fall 2007 - Excerpts from a letter we received: 'I wanted to write to tell you of an unexpected way of prayer shawl knitting. A friend of mine has a bad tremor in her right hand and finds it difficult to 'be still' when she prays because of the tremor. But now she has started knitting a shawl and is able to 'be still' as she knits and so her prayer life has been enhanced.' Helen C. Nonington, England
A letter of 'thanks' from a mom who recently attended the ISMRD Family Conference held in Ann Arbor, Michigan - July 2007
Thank you to all who contributed shawls to the children and their families.
To learn more about ISMRD and Glycoprotein Storage Diseases please visit: www.ismrd.org
"Not only meeting everyone today was amazing, but what happened at the end of the dinner -- all of the affected kids with storage disorders that are here as well as their siblings received presents. This was so emotional - every child received a prayer shawl 'which was lovingly crafted especially for the children affected by glycoprotein storage diseases knitted by the Prayer Shawl Ministry and blessed with the prayers of the parish family of St. Michael's Cathedral in Boise Idaho'. Attached to the shawl was a prayer card which says: 'Dear children of God, as you are wrapped in this shawl of comfort, may the spirit of compassion enfold you in all encompassing love. May this shall be a refuge from all that appears too much to bear, a shelter in times of grief, and be sustaining during times of unimaginable loss. Take comfort in the prayerful presence of those who love and support you. And be strengthened in the Holy Spirit.' These prayer shawls have been passed through praying hands and have been blessed by the loving hearts of the family at St. Michael's Cathedral on June 19, 2007. It also had a Prayer of Blessing: 'May God's grace be upon this shawl...warming, comforting, enfolding and embracing. may this mantle be a safe haven, a sacred place of security and well-being. May it sustain and embrace in good times as well as during difficult ones May the one who receives the shall be cradled by hope, kept in joy, graced with peace, and wrapped in Love. Amen. (prayer by Janet Bristow).
Ok, you can cry now -- I did...."
Much love, Trish
I was 43 years old. My life was a shambles--kids on drugs, indifferent and sometimes abusive husband, and I had no self esteem. I chose not to believe in God. After attempting suicide, and hearing a voice say 'no', I was completely broken. I am blind and I felt trapped in a bad situation with no hope for a way out. As I stood in my kitchen, I felt a presence come up behind me, and I felt something light and warm being draped across my shoulders and around my body, and I was shaking with sobs. It was 'peace'. It enveloped me completely. I said, out loud, 'God! I know you are there and I thank you.' That peace has never left me since that day in early 1993. I have wanted to write a poem or do something to express what happened to me that day. I have always told people that I think of my experience as a 'Shawl of Peace'. I was thrilled when I saw your web site and programs. I am not a needleworker, but perhaps my story might be useful to someone sometime. Once that shawl was placed over me, I left the marriage Moved to another city. Got a job as a secretary in a rehab center for the blind. Moved into a teaching position at that center. Moved into a Braille transcription position at that center and, then into my current position as statewide Braille consultant. I have been a million times blessed with unimaginable opportunities, and it all started with the Shawl of Peace placed over me by the hand of God. Ann F. My name is Ann 'Bennett' Merideth. I lost my father James A. 'Jim' Bennett in the Sago Mine Accident in West Virginia on 1/2/06. I just want to say thank-you to all of the ladies that are in the shawl ministry. I think it's such a wonderful thing for you alls to be spreading such joy and hope to our nation. I suffered a great loss when I lost my father. He was a great man of God. As being a Christian myself I know that every little thing that a person does to mind the Lord is a great reward not only for them but for others as well. There's not a day that goes by that my family and myself don't think of my dad. I have relied on my faith in the Lord to get me through this terrible tragic that my family and 11 other families has gone through. As each day goes by it gets a little easier to deal with things but there will always be a great emptiness due to the loss of my father. He lived his life for the Lord and for his family. If you might have some words of wisdom or something to help me get through this please let me know. And again thank-you for what all of you ladies are doing. God bless and be with each of you. Thoughts and Prayers, Ann 'Bennett' Merideth I recently completed a prayer shawl for my 94 year old great-aunt Helen, who is in a nursing home. Aunt Helen and I were never close. I always felt she disliked and disapproved of me, and I rarely visited her. Our only communication for years had been Christmas cards. Then Aunt Helen's husband, Uncle Ed, was diagnosed with inoperable cancer and I drove sixty miles to see them. The first thing Aunt Helen said as I walked in the door was 'I never received a thank-you note for the flowers!' She was referring to my mother's death earlier that year, when she and Uncle Ed had sent flowers. But I was positive I had written them a note! I kept a careful list of who sent flowers, and had checked off each name as I wrote thank-you notes. I tried to explain this to Aunt Helen, but she ignored me. Several other people were in the room, and I felt humiliated and embarrassed. I burst into tears as I drove home, not because of Uncle Ed's impending death but because I felt like a naughty child who had been scolded. I hadn't saved the flower list, so I could only assume my note had been lost in the mail, or perhaps Aunt Helen had forgotten she received it. Not knowing what else to do, I wrote another note to Aunt Helen and Uncle Ed, thanking them for the flowers and apologizing profusely that they had not received the original note. After Uncle Ed's death, Aunt Helen lived alone for several months before she fell and broke her hip. Her recovery was slow and painful; her children moved her to an assisted living facility and later t o a nursing home. I sent her several cards, but did not visit again. My own life turned upside down when I was downsized from a job I'd held for 17 years. I felt angry and betrayed, and it was then that I turned to knitting. I knit my way through many sleepless nights. When Aunt Helen's son sent me an email about his mother's declining health, I instantly decided to knit her a prayer shawl. I chose a self-striping yarn of creamy pastel shades of blue, beige, and taupe in a wool blend that would keep her warm as she sat up in bed. As I knit, I thought about Aunt Helen. She had always been outspoken and blunt, but she had a kind heart. I remembered the delicious molasses cookies and spice cake she made at Christmas. I remembered how, as a child, I had cried when the cat caught a bird and she held me in her lap and comforted me. And I realized I had loved Aunt Helen all along. When I finished the shawl, I put a card in that said 'with much love'. Her son told me she was delighted with the shawl and asked him to pass along her thanks. Judy T. Post Script: From Judy T: March 2008 - 'Aunt Helen passed away quietly at age 94, in the nursing home where she had lived for the last year. I hope that she enjoyed her prayer shawl. She is in God's Presence, free from pain and suffering.' Eliza Jayne 6 months old - July 2006 June 2006, We just are beginning to experience the powerful working of the Spirit as we deliver our first shawls. The first went to a little girl Hayley, with Infantile scoliosis, only 42 pounds at 9 years. (not child in above photo). The surgery was very delicate. She slept with her shawl and made her mom promise not to wash the prayers out while she is in the hospital. The second came last night when I was on the way home from our meeting and had 2 shawls. I saw a couple out walking and she had lost her mom only 5 days ago. I apologized that we had not delivered one to her mother and she asked to see it and reached out to take and hug it close. She said I will treasure this all my life. Then today a lady came by to audit a service club’s books here and told about the serious cancer surgery she is having next Monday. Well I knew where the last shawl would go. She hugged it and said it would be with her at the hospital. What a powerful ministry!! Carol D. for St. Michael’s CWL Cudworth SK Canada Post Script: There is a happy next chapter to the story. Hayley had surgery in Stollery Children’s Hospital, Edmonton and it went so well that doctors removed 5 ribs before putting her in the traction bed. After 3 weeks the curvature was less than 40% down from 120%. The second surgery released 7 more ribs and the bone was used to strengthen the spine. The doctors had never done such a severe case before. Did you know that ribs will grow back again? Hayley is now 6 inches taller, her hunchback is gone, she can see her toes and her smile is wonderful to see. She is at home after 7 weeks in the hospital. Her prayer shawl is important to her. In January 2006, our 16 year old son died by suicide with no warning. In my profound grief I have been held in prayer by spiritual friends throughout the world. One of the most tangible ways I have experienced consolation is through the gift of not one, not two, but three prayer shawls. Each is unique, arrived from a different part of the country, at a particular time of need. The interwoven connectedness has astounded me. A friend from Denver gifted me with the first one--tangerine oranges with long fringe, and a card with a prayer by Cathy Murtha. I stood in my kitchen weeping, amazed at how the Spirit of God consoled me. She had no idea I knew Cathy, and had been in CT the previous fall. The second is large, white, and big enough to hide under or wrap me completely in a pure, soft embrace. The friend that made this one showed up at my door, unexpectedly, on a day when the grief seemed beyond measure. I received the third one at Denver airport heading to CA, wrapped in a beautiful package. It was knitted by a friend from Indiana, and had been mailed to my office in Denver. Midnight blue, it is a triangular shawl with shimmering strands of pink, white, silver and turquoise tied throughout the shawl and fringe. The woman that gifted me with this shawl wrote in her card that it is the first she made, and that she was beginning a prayer shawl ministry in her church. It is my “cosmic” prayer shawl, and wrapped within this one I know the broad, deep mystery of God’s presence in new ways. I knew that in time I too wanted to pray my appreciation, love and compassion into prayer shawls for others suffering an unexpected grief. I trusted the right time would make itself known. I haven’t knitted since I was a little girl, but have blankets from both my Grandmothers, and learned to knit many, many moons ago. This afternoon, a group of spiritual directors gathered in my home. Two women suggested that we begin gathering together to pray for the high rate of suicide in our state. Before I knew what I was saying, I offered “perhaps we could contemplatively knit prayer shawls….” The next thing I knew everyone was fingering the three shawls I have. I shared their special meaning, how they had arrived to me, and the power of consolation and connection they bring. And thus, in June, we will gather to learn to knit (for those of us that haven’t knitted for eons, if ever.) Beyond that, I trust the Spirit will blow where it will, and that the threads of belonging that we share together will knit their way into new homes and hearts, offering whatever each recipient most needs and longs for. The prayer shawls have brought me courage, consolation, and a deep acknowledgment of the interwoven nature of the universe. Thank you for the gift you bring alive in the world. May it continue to nourish and console thousands throughout the planet in the making, gifting, receiving, and soothing comfort of love. Guestbook entry by: Pegge B. Fort Collins, CO USA June 01, 2006 South Portland , ME.... The shawls are being made as our church is having 40 days of Community. This is a wonderful way of reaching out to people. When I first found out about this I was in a local bookstore, and I saw the book and heard God's call to buy it. I purchased it and talked to the co-pastors and they were thrilled with the idea. They called a woman from their former church and she came and talked to us. The ministry took off like a dove in flight. I am going to think this Christmas (even though it is only May). Isn't this what happened long ago in a stable when gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh were brought to the Baby Jesus? Reaching Out to People. Betty S. I started my first shawl more than a year ago ... I had a friend who was suffering with skin cancer and had already been through many tests and surgeries. I started passing it (the shawl) and a journal through our group of friends so they could all pray over it and write a message to Susan. Susan died suddenly before the shawl had completed the circle. At that point I wasn't sure what to do with it. When Mother's Day came several months after her death I knew that her family needed that shawl and journal then. Denise B. I am the recent recipient of a prayer shawl that was made by a woman at our church. We my mother died and I was standingat the grave side, praying... but barely able to pray more than: 'Oh Lord...(sigh) oh crap!' The shawl prayed for me,it gave me strength, it thought and spoke for me when I could not... and it brought comfort at a time of agony. Thanks for starting this beautiful, meaningful and comforting ministry. Peace, Marla B. Today I received my shawl from my mother, Gloria H. You see, 3 years ago I was a happy, healthy mother of 5, with a great husband and career. Then on December 3 2002 I was rear ended by a tractor trailer on the highway and I now have a spinal cord injury that has left me very ill. I am no longer the same person and my days are filled with pain and struggle to maintain. Most days I admit to losing the battle but still trudge along. The last few weeks I have had a huge set back that has left me nearly bed bound. My mom has been so concerned because there is nothing she can do. She heard about the shawls at our church, All Saints Episcopal, in Worcester, Mass and spoke to our reverend and today she gave it to me for my birthday which is 2 days away. I truly was overwhelmed. I called her and thanked her and told her how much I love her but as I began to talk about it I was becoming so emotional I actually had to hang up, I sat and cried for an hour. I was so touched by this gift I could not put it into words. I felt like all these hands, including those of my moms, were on this blanket and were wrapping themselves around me. Even now as I write this the tears fill my eyes again, 5 hours later. I will cherish this shawl until the day I die, and then I will take it with me. Thank you to all who have any hand or thought in the creation of this incredible gift I received today. Of all the gifts I have received over the 39 years of my life, and there have been many, some that cost a little and some that cost a lot, not one has ever touched me and in this way. No gift has ever meant this much to me before. Thank you all and god bless all of you. Donna J. 'A member of our prayer shawl group died yesterday at the age of 63 from a major heart attack. This is a tribute to her for all she broughtto our prayer shawl group. At our first meeting with the Knitter's Guild to help teach newbies how to knit, Jan came with some yarn hermother had not used up before her death. Jan had been taught to knit before but it had been years since she had knitted. She didn't needa lot of help to get started and was quickly started knitting her first shawl. She came to the next meeting with a couple inches knitted. She was using the K3, P3 pattern and was sharing with us how she kept gainingstitches for a few rows, would gradually get back to the number she started with, and soon would have too many again. She didn't understandhow she was doing it but she decided to just knit through it as she figured sooner or later she would figure out what she was doing wrong andit would fix itself! The pattern in her shawl was unique!! She often found holes from where she had slipped a stitch but didn't know how she was doing it.She just took some yarn and tied up the holes! She stuck with it and finished her shawl. It is the most unique shawl I have ever seen but is filled with prayers and love. She was going to sendit far away to someone that would never know who made it but I ask her if I could have it. It is a treasure as it reminds me that God uses all of us to create heaven here on earth. Her shawl was not perfectly knit,but was perfectly made! Every time I use it, I am reminded that God does not ask or demand that we be perfect in our attempts to serve him. I have struggled in the past with perfectionist tendencies and use her shawl as a reminder that I can give that up. Jan's second shawl looked more like the original pattern called for as were each shawl she made after that as her skills came back to her and improved. However, I will always believe that her first shawl is the most beautiful shawl I have ever seen as it was made with love from her heart! May God bless Jan and accept her into his kingdom in heaven!' Kay S. I am a victim of Hurricane Katrina and have suffered quite a bit of damage to my home, but not as much as some of my friends. While cleaning out my house, I notice that I had toms of yarn like most knitters and for some reason the yarn was not ruined. A lot of my friends have lost everything and I decided to make them something, but I didn't know what. I purchased a knitting book and was so happy to see an article about the Prayer Ministry. This is what I am doing for friends who are scattered around they country. Some will be back to rebuild, some will not which makes me sad. Whenever I feel the need for some quiet time out of my busy day cleaning my house and trying to get it back to some order, I pick up my needles, pray and work on a shawl. I am presently knitting my third and fourth shawls. They are beautiful and very much appreciated. Thanks for sharing your ministry. It has also helped me to be more accepting of all the things that have happened here in New Orleans. God Bless Barbara T. Metairie, LA Excerpts from an email about making shawls... '... Each senior citizen who is in the hospital gets one (shawl). It has, as always is the case, done much for the knitter (crocheter), as well as the middleperson (the bestower) and the recipient. For some who used to knit hugely complicated patterns and are unable to do so, this is regifting them with creating in yarn. For others, it is a call to learn a new skill in a very meaningful way.' Continuing on: 'I have to share the funniest story I’ve run into in my own p.s. ministry. A lovely senior woman in our church had experienced numerous health issues and was such a wonderful example of going with God and keeping on. I made her a shawl. She loved it! Not long after, I was making another and she said, in her own very frank manor, “I like those colors better.” So, when I finished, I traded with her. Sometime later she was in the hospital for an extended stay and so I visited her regularly and she always had her prayer shawl with her. One day, when she was getting near the end of her life, I was near the bed and she quietly called out my name. “Susie” I leaned over to hear her better. “I want to tell you something about this shawl.” I leaned over even closer. I have to admit that my ego was getting ready for her to tell me something to the effect that the shawl had helped her on her journey or was a continual comfort.” You can imagine my surprise when she uttered, “It’s not even!” I got a good case of the giggles before I recovered and told this incredibly faith-filled woman, “Betty, you know that only God could crochet a perfect shawl. I’m just striving.” She smiled her knowing smile.But later, I did find out that if you entered her hospital room and mentioned the shawl on her bed, she would always say, “It’s not even you know.” When she died, her family kept the shawl and we are contemplating ways to separate it so each of her granddaughters can have a memory in yarn.' Susan S. AlaskaMy mother is gone Home now 17 years. When we found out she had lung cancer, I ran out and purchased a shawl for her from alocal weaver and mailed it. I told her I could not be there for her all the time (she lived in Missouri, I live in Pennsylvania) but every timeshe felt cold, lonely, sad, ill, hurting, etc. to wrap the shawl around her and feel my love and my arms reaching out to hold her.After she went Home, I took the shawl back to Pennsylvania with me. Her best friend in the world became very seriously ill, so I sent the shawl to her.She knew the origins, and the 'why's' behind the shawl-gift. She eventually recovered. She kept it for the last 10 years or so.When I got my diagnosis last year and subsequently underwent treatments, one of the first gifts I got in the mail was this same shawl,sent back to me in the mail. I cried. Such a history of love and sharing and support. It has come full circle. So, I hope and pray as these shawlsare made by these caring ladies that the same legacy is begun among the families of the recipients. Dee M.I had asked Cheryl a couple of months ago if there were any spare prayer shawls that I could give my neighbor. Although I didn’t knowJennifer very well at all, Steve & I did get to know her husband, Mark. We would often stop to chat during the warmer months when we weredoing those “fun” chores in the yard! Mark, in the spring of 2005, shared with us that Jen had been diagnosed in late 2004with breast cancer (at the ripe age of 35) and had just finished up her treatments and they were both hopeful for the future. In early autumn, 2005,Mark once again shared with me that Jen had been experiencing pain in her joints, a symptom that is more than scary in cancer patients.She had a recurrence of breast cancel and would be facing more treatments in late autumn. Mark & Jen decided to live for the present and scheduleda trip to Hawaii around Halloween. I was so happy that the two of them would get quality time together away from the realities of her disease,even if just for two weeks. Wethersfield, being as suburban as it is, makes it hard for neighbors to not have an inkling of what’s going on in each other’s lives!We noticed that Mark & Jen returned home early from their vacation. Mark stopped over to let us know (since we had offered to watch his house) that Jenneeded to come home and start treatments immediately. Having been through caring for a dear friend who died of breast cancel at too young of an age,my heart just sunk when I heard this. This is when I asked Cheryl if there were any extra prayer shawls that I could give to Jen. At that time, there weren’t sincethey were being knitted for Biloxi residents but she promised to let me know as soon as one became available. Lo and behold, a few weeks later Cheryldid have one for me which I took home to give to Jen. Of course, I had the shawl in my kitchen for a little while before I gave it to Jen. Thoughts wentthrough my head about whether my neighbors, who I really didn’t know well at all, would think I was trying to push religion on them. This was morethan just a shawl; it came with prayers and words of comfort from a group of people who didn’t know this intensely private young woman. I finally didwalk the shawl over, with a card expressing my concern for Jen’s health and wishes for her recovery. No one was home so I left it on their front stoop. I never heard another word about the shawl. Again, living in such close proximity to our neighbors, I couldn’t help seeing the telltale signs of a womangetting sicker and sicker. Jen came home from hospice just after New Years to die. Mark’s and her family came from various parts of the country to be close by.She was home barely two days before she took her last breath. She was just 36. Steve saw Mark’s family in the yard on one warmer day last week andexpressed our deepest sympathy toward Mark and toward both of their families. Mark stopped by our house to talk soon after. Mark mentioned how muchJennifer loved the shawl. It meant so much to her that she put it on as soon as she got it and never took it off. It went with her to the funeral parlor and toher final resting place. They never had the opportunity to thank us for it but were extremely touched by the sentiment behind the shawl – that people whodidn’t know them either at all or well would hold her in their thoughts and prayers. Needless to say, I was relieved that Jen loved the shawl so much.To hear what it meant to her made me learn first hand what a powerful ministry this is. I want to thank you and everyone who has ever knitted a shawlfor letting us tangibly show, through you, our love for each other. Deb C. A quote from our 'Guest Book' '...when you're knitting it's a great time to have your talks with God and feel his guidance. He always answers but sometimes we're not listening.' Carol F. I never thought, when I felt called to offer the gifts of my hands to my church, where it might lead, or how God might use me. I never thought, when The Shepherd's Hands was formed, how many people I would get to know, to love, and to appreciate their skills. I never thought, when I finished my first prayer shawl, that I would send it last Friday to a dear long-time friend as a comfort after the accidental death of his life-partner. Thank you, for making it possible for me to offer tangible comfort to him. Cindy K. I made a prayer shawl for the 17 yr. old daughter of a friend of ours that was born with a serious heart condition. She battled it all her life - had several operations and was finally scheduled for a heart and lung transplant. On Dec. 3, 2005 a donor was found and she was rushed to the hospital for surgery. We all prayed for her as she underwent this serious operation but the Lord needed her and took this special angel of ours home. Her mother asked me if I would mind if they put the shawl that I made for her over her casket in lieu of a floral spray. She told me that Amanda loved the shawl so much and she wanted to use it. I was so humbled and blessed that they would want to do that and of course told her through a gush of tears that she could certainly use it. So, at the viewing, and the funeral, the prayer shawl that I had made for sweet Amanda was spread very neatly across the casket with the prayer card attached to it. I have made several prayer shawls but the comfort and joy that this one gave to to Amanda and her family really touched my heart. Praise God for this ministry and for the wonderful works that He does through it. Thank you letting me share, Teresa B. October 2005: A week ago, one of my upstairs neighbors died very suddenly and unexpectedly of a blood clot to her lungs. She was 22-year-old Shawntinice Polk, a much-loved and incredibly talented member of the U of Arizona's women's basketball team. Our whole community is devastated at the loss of this lovely, spirited young woman, who loved everyone and inspired all whom she met, and truly seemed to walk in beauty. Appropriately for someone who had such a 'sun-shiney' disposition, her favorite color was orange, as I found out during a teammate's eulogy at her memorial service. I've begun making a prayer shawl for her teammates in a variety of shades and textures of soft orange yarn. I'm going to make it big, as she was a 'Big Lady on Campus' in more ways than one (she stood 6'5' tall). When I finish it, I'll present it to her roommate Ashley, who still lives upstairs with two of the other players. I'm thinking of some way to work in the lyrics to a devotional song I learned at Bible camp when I was little: 'Heavenly Sunshine'. 'Polkey' was a devout Christian and I'm sure it would have made her happy. Perhaps I'll knit a flat area into the shawl and cross stitch the verses in; I'm not sure. In any case, I'm glad I can do this for her teammates and on behalf of all of us who feel her loss so deeply. Gretchen Post Script: [November 19th, 2005] Today I started working on the shawl again after a long time of not working on it because of school. I had almost completed a row of a particularly nice yarn during the previews at a movie theater. When we came home from the movie, her family was there from California picking up her things. I said 'hi' to her family and expressed my condolences and we exchanged hugs. When I got inside, I thought the fact that I'd picked up the shawl again on the very day her family showed up and it suddenly occurred to me that the family was meant to have this shawl. I quickly finished the row and ran out and gave it to Johnnie, Polkey's mom. The ends weren't woven in, but that's okay. A Reflection on the Shawl Ministry by Christel S. Hilgarth The prayer shawl ministry makes us more aware of the needs of others. We see the pain of others more clearly and let go of our own. How can we deal with our own pain and heal if we are not able to see the pain in others? How can we heal if we are incapable of bringing healing to others? In this process of prayer and knitting the heart is filled with compassion for others. In giving the shawl the heart's door opens and God's Grace and His Love flows freely, not only to the receiver of the shawl, but also to us. This practice is healing. In prayer knitting we partake in God's creation unselfishly and without any expectations in return. Only when we get to the point of giving in a Agape Love (unconditional love, the love that God gives to us) is prayer knitting God's work. And when we give the shawl in the name of Christ (with the heart of Christ), prayer knitting transcends to become a true ministry of our Lord and Savior. God knows our heart; our Creator knows our intentions and our motives when we enter into God’s ministry. The prayer shawl ministry helps to grow the fruit of the Spirit within us, love joy peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentles, and self control. In prayer knitting we weave the fruit of the Spirit into the shawl and the grace is given to us. My own experience, the more shawls I knit (regardless how well I know a person), the more I become aware how God creates through me, and the easier the shawl is woven together. It was really hard to get the first couple of shawls knitted and now they seem to knit so effortless. Shalom - May God's Peace be with you, Christel I have read about the shawl ministry and would like to contribute something that came to my mind when I first read about the symbolism of 'three'. One of my favorite writers is the late Elizabeth Goudge, an Englishwoman who passed on in 1984 and who wrote some beautiful and inspirational books. One of these was 'The Scent of Water'. In it are the following lines: '...love, your God is a trinity. There are three necessary prayers and they have three words each. They are these: Lord have mercy. Thee I adore. Into Thy hands. Not difficult to remember. If in times of distress you hold to these, you will do well.' I thought you might be interested in adding these thoughts to your symbolism. They have become a simple but large part of MY life! Sincerely Mrs. Cathie R. Our favorite saying at Shawl meetings is: 'Trust the Shawl'. We may not be happy with the color or the outcome of the shawl but we have found that it turns out to be perfect for the person receiving it. Thank you for starting such a wonderful organization!! The stories we share around our circle inspire us to keep making more. Many recipients say they can feel God's l ove for them & wrap themselves in the shawl daily or even sleep with it... The ministry tends to have a life of it's own, doesn't it? :-) Margaret N. Wisconsin I am sure when she reads everything my 85 yr old Mother may understand the symbolism of my prayer shawl. There are mistakes in it just where she may grip it to put it on. I have left my mistakes there and called them *difficulties*. As she puts it on she will see the difficulties and she will grasp them. However as she grasps them she will also grasp the 'fish' intended as 'Ichthys'. Then it is her choice to hold onto the difficulties or give them to Jesus. Sandra K. Sandra has requested that each person that reads this story prays for her mother Prayer for my Mother Tillie D. in Calgary. She suffers from a painful arthritic condition in her neck. A lady named Beverly, had a brain tumor and was given a prayer shawl in the final weeks of her life. A friend that Beverly worked with had organized a 'Make Friday Special for Beverly' program. She had taken up a collection and every Friday made sure Beverly knew they were thinking of her with a bouquet of flowers, dinner coupons, gift certificates for something useful, etc. One of the members of our group made Beverly a prayer shawl with funds supplied by her friends. Beverly liked it so much that before her death, she asked her daughter to donate to the church 5 small skeins of yarn she had purchased and never used. I made her yarn into a prayer shawl and the shawl was given to the co-worker/friend that had organized the 'Make Friday Special for Beverly' program. Her response was powerful! She felt Beverly had reached her from her death with a measure of comfort for her now. Kay S. Recently, I read about Shawl Ministry and was very excited about it. Right away I made one for my daughter. I don't get to see her much but I will call her and tell her to put her shawl around her. Then I will say, 'That is my arms around you.' It is such a comfort to both of us. I had a pink one started and this week a friend lost her six week old baby girl. We are all heartbroken over this death. The shawl is finished in time to give the Mother before the funeral. Hopefully she will receive some comfort in her sorrow. Thank you for the wonderful idea of the shawls. Reba R. from Florida A friend from out of town was visiting, crocheting away. I asked 'What are you making?' 'A Prayer Shawl' was her answer. Tell me about it. She explained that her church, First Union Church of Cedarville, Michigan, had a prayer shawl ministry, so I got some yarn and made one for her to take back to her church. She encouraged me to get it started in my church. I took the idea to our Missions Committee Chairperson. We had 11 ladies and our pastor show up for a quick meeting after church in February, 2005. We gave them the information about this mission, asked if they were interested and we have met twice a month since. Our pastor did a minute for mission April 3 telling how this ministry got started, showing the 37 shawls that were made so far and saying prayers for those and future ones. Thirty-nine shawls have been made, 2 have been delivered, and Sunday, April 24, 2005, prayers are going to be offered on 24 more and they will be delivered next week. Thank you so much for this ministry and God Bless! Nancy S. - Auburn Hills Presbyterian Church Auburn Hills, Michigan POST SCRIPT: Well, it has been 1 year since our first meeting. We have made and given out 114 shawls as ofDecember 31, 2005. January brought us a new avenue of this ministry...our county intake home for infantsthat will be placed in foster homes. All ready this year our ladies have made 33 shawls for these babies alongwith keeping up with the demand for adult shawls. We have also given shawls to a local hospital for theirin-house hospice care. We truly have been blessed by this ministry.Thank you and please continue this wonderful ministry. One week ago today my friend, Dora, introduced me to the Prayer Shawl Ministry by directing me to your website. After receiving your encouraging email in response to my questions I started my first prayer shawl last weekend while my husband, James, and I took some reflective time away from home. I decided to make a pink and white striped shawl for James' friend of thirty years, Ernestine, who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Following your suggestions, I worked on it over the weekend. On Tuesday, James (who is an ordained deacon in the Catholic Church) called me at work and said, 'Do you think you could finish that shawl tonight? Ernestine is scheduled for surgery on Friday and we are going over to her house tomorrow evening for a prayer service with her family.' That evening, I tied the last of the fringe on, sewed a pink drawstring bag in which to enclose it, and crafted a greeting card to go along with it. With her husband, Joe, her children and grandchildren gathered around, James and I presented Ernestine with the shawl and he blessed it as she wore it in the presence of her family and friends. On the front of the card I had copied the quotation written by Janet featured on the home page of your website. Ernestine managed to read the first sentence of it aloud, but after that James and had to I took over. There was not a dry eye in the place as we continued. Inside was a reference to Isaiah 61:10 '...in my God is the joy of my soul; for he has clothed me with a robe of salvation and wrapped me in a mantle of justice' and a note we had composed a note for her. It told about each of the three rows of color, representing the Blessed Trinity--Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and the three groups of three knots tied on the tassels at the four corners of the shawl. We explained the prayerful, meditative quality of its construction and that it is intended to remind her of the constant support of her loved ones and the grace of God. After James presided over the offering of some special prayers, we gathered in a circle and prayed the Lord's Prayer together, concluding with a special hug for Ernestine from each of us, one at a time. It could not have been more beautiful. So, another story goes. I have started my next shawl for James' sister, Mary, who has suffered greatly from Hepatitis C for many years. Lord knows what is yet to unfold! Thank you for starting this ministry. Peace be with all of you. Ivana I really enjoy working on the shawls. I try to do one a month. I belong to a group that meets on the first Saturday afternoon each month from 2 to 3:30. I joined the group after seeing a presentation at their church in late Sept. There were a lot of women there from different churches. I expressed an interest in joining the group at that church. It is a Catholic church and I am Protestant. I have been very welcome at the group. When I first asked about joining the group that was forming there, I said to one of the women, 'I am Protestant, could I still join' and she said 'Oh, so do you knit differently' We had a good laugh and I have felt right at home in their group. We donate the shawls to a local nursing home and they have been well received. When the leader suggested that nursing home I was so pleased as that is where my husband spent the last 4 months of his life battling cancer, so it was a place I was connected to. I just feel that the Lord guided me to the group and this ministry. Linda from MA I read of your prayer shawl ministry in a magazine article. I picked it up because I was heading to my parent's home to help care for my father, who had been recently diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. I knew I would have a great deal of time on my hands and wanted an easy project to occupy my mind and hands as I began my role as caregiver. The shawl not only 'filled the bill' in that regard, but as a believer, gave me a tangible way to focus on my prayers for my father. The shawl had more impact than I thought, as it provided not only a visual encouragement for my father, who then could 'see' me praying, but also provided an opportunity to glorify God as. While the shawl was 'in process', it accompanied us to doctor appointments, radiation therapy, etc. People always asked, 'What are you knitting?' My answer let them know that I believed the power of God to care for my father. I finished the shawl (my first knitting project in nearly 10 years) in about four weeks. I then began one for my mother. It brought me great joy to see my father literally wrapped in my prayers. While he was still ambulatory, he stretched out in his recliner chair swathed in periwinkle blue chenille yarn. Unfortunately, my dad's shawl needed to be washed, and my mother threw it in the washing machine and dryer. It came out looking very 'loopy'. I unraveled the shawl, and reusing the yarn, started again. When I asked God, 'Why?' I gained an understanding that my father needed to 'see' me pray for him again. 'Round two was a joy. I finished it several weeks before his death. Throughout his final weeks, both of my parents often reached for their shawls. Each time was a fresh reminder to me to pray for them. When my dad drew his last breath, I straightened the shawl over his body. He remained 'covered by my prayers' when the undertaker took him, for the final time, from his home. After his funeral, immediately before they closed his coffin, the undertaker handed me the neatly folded shawl and escorted me up to his casket. I covered my father with his shawl for the last time, tucking it neatly in alongside him. It gives me great peace and joy to know that he is still covered by my prayers. Last week I spend several hours with a dear friend of mine who is suffering from heart disease. A virus has attacked her heart, and she has strict instructions to live a sedentary lifestyle. An active servant of God, this enforced 'rest' makes her very restless. She is a devout 'pray-er'. I mentioned that she might consider a prayer shawl ministry. We will be getting together within the next week to get her started. I know God let me to the EASY KNITTING magazine - and then to your website... and I pray for you and your ministry with great thanksgiving! Diana P. - The Next Step Ministries, Inc. Dear friends- I was in a deep profound state of depression a year ago - a friend of mine who thought she would never see me or see me well again was going away and needed to be connected to me in prayer and love . On a retreat, while she was away, she saw women wearing them (shawls) and making them. She inquired as to what they were and how they were made- she knew that was how she could connect to me with her prayers and love-she is a very a spiritual person- my faith kept me hanging in there on a positive track- I relied on the help of the right medical people, meds but mostly the help of prayers of my community and that shawl wrapped around me with her prayers and love. She hadn't knitted in 40 years-I wrapped myself each night as I tried to stay up to watch tv- I couldn't eat, lost 80 pounds due to 24/7 nausea( my form of depression,) staying in bed for 4 months 20 hours a day, isolating myself from friends and phone calls as the nausea was so bad I couldn't talk to anyone - the computer gave me a goal to get up and was a connection to friends and family in the outside world. I took my shawl to counseling sessions twice a week. My counselor was familiar with it as they had a Ministry for it in her church. It kept me warm, positive and hanging on by my finger tips- In June I turned a corner and am getting better day by day- I have personally made quite a few for those in need, the old ripple effect. In thankfulness and with my new found motivation and positive energy, I would like to start a Prayer Shawl ministry in our Parish - St. Pius X Catholic Church, South Yarmouth , Mass within the next couple of weeks. When the Dr in Boston told me it would be a long road and it would take a lot of hard work- never did I realize that it would be so long, difficult and ongoing- I did not know where I was going and how deep I would fall to reach bottom before I would start back up. Plus I had the fear of losing touch with reality as my mother did when I was 12 years old and other times since. She is Manic Depressive and is STILL going STRONG wondrously at the age of 90- I see the disease as a gift as it has given me a different perspective on her dealing with her life without the meds and support that we have today. It's her strong faith that has gotten her through those times. She was the recipient of my first shawl- I hadn't knitted in about 30 years. Barbara Post Script: I had written you in February, 2005 to tell you my story of fighting off Depression with the Prayer shawl as a very loving, spiritual tangible part of my healing. It was made by my dearest friend under the tutelage of your Mom (Vicky's mom), at a Deacon's retreat in Florida. I vowed at that time that I would go wherever God would lead me once I was restored to the mental health and energy level that I would need to have to be His witness to the power of love and prayer. As Bernie Siegel once said,' It's Love, Medicine and Miracles'. One day at Mass, God as with Samuel, whispered in my ear-SHAWL MINISTRY and I took off running with the wonderful support of our Parish Nurse who so wanted to do this but didn't have the time. Our pastor, Msgr. John Smith, has both verbally and financially supported our getting started and continuing the ministry. You have to feel so fulfilled as to the seed you planted and the fields that are blooming because of your launching such a wonderful , spiritual outreach. It has been overwhelming the response to wanting to be part of this from passing the word, making the shawl, a financial donation from a young woman who sees me knitting them at my Chiropractor's office and wanted to buy us some yarn, packaging and delivering, sewing on the labels. People are hungry to do something spiritually enriching and meaningful with their lives. This has been such a gift to me. We launched the Ministry in March, thought we'd possibly get 40 shawls by July and were presented with 82. 2 delivered just before Mass began, and I had sewn on a label before I put it on the altar. You printed my story of Depression and renewal. As an inspirational story and I felt so honored. I am so thankful to God and you for directing me on this road of another fulfilling journey in my life. My Psychiatrist was so happy with what has transpired. My mental health skills have returned, I am so positive and motivated just from this whole experience. I think I detected a slight tear in his eye as I showed him a shawl that I made and then he truly understood what it was all about - so rewarding on all levels. God is so good!! Bless you for all you do! Peace and love, Barbara I had never heard of a prayer shawl until my grandmother was diagnosed with lung cancer at 83. Generally a very healthy lady this was a complete shock to our family. She never smoked, works out at the gym a few times a week, is active in her church, just went barnstorming this past fall in a bi-plane, parasailed this past summer, and went on a hot air balloon ride just last year. She always has a full calendar and can give her grandkids a run for their money! Her doctors conducted numerous tests and when they found the lesions on a scan of her lungs they scheduled a biopsy. Hearing of grandmother's ailment, someone gave her a prayer shawl. They wrapped her in the shawl and said a blessing over her. Several weeks later she wore the shawl the morning of her biopsy to the hospital. The doctors made the preparations and did scans again to locate the area they needed to biopsy. They had to keep re-doing the scans for some reason which made my grandmother very nervous. Eventually they told her they could not do the biopsy. She asked why and they told her that the lesion had shrunk so small that there was nothing to biopsy! Today her lungs are completely clear and there is no sign of cancer. It is as if it never existed. My grandmother is convince that the prayer shawl and God's blessing healed her. Around Christmas she brought prayer shawls to some members of my mother's church where she told this story, and there were 3 shawls given to people in need. Strange that I just read about the trinity on your website. I am hoping that the congregation of my mother's church takes up this cause, as it was a miracle for our family because we still have our healthy vibrant 83 year old grandmother. Kimberly M. Hopedale, MA I am writing from Methuen, MA. Our ministry started about one year ago and in that one year we distributed 52 shawls. The response was overwhelming. We felt blessed. A member of our parish read about the Shawl Ministry in our church bulletin. This woman works for hospice. She called me asking if we would supply her with shawls for her patients. Our entire group replied 'absolutely'. About two weeks ago we gave this woman a shawl for one of her patients. The patient was an elderly woman with cancer. Her caregiver was her son. Upon receipt of her shawl she was amazed that we gave her one, but more than that 'How did we know that purple was her favorite color?' The Spirit works wonders. This woman passed away this past weekend; her funeral is tomorrow. Her one last instruction to her son was to be buried with her prayer shawl. Her son told the hospice worker that his mother received a gift of love. It brought her so much comfort. Her son is grieving deeply for the mother he loved so much. And in his grief he is concerned that, we, the Shawl Ministry, will be upset because he is burying the prayer shawl. Imagine, she felt God's comfort, His love and the love of a community each time she had that shawl on. So much so that she didn't want to leave it behind. Our ministry feels so blessed to have been a very small part in making this woman's last days a little more peaceful. I feel that I have been given two gifts of Thanksgiving. One is that this shawl brought so much warmth, comfort and peace to a dying woman; and the second that, in his grief the son is concerned about us. Her son must be a remarkable man if he can think of a group of ladies he doesn't even now at this time in his life. I will pay my respects to this family this evening and assure the son his mother's request brought us much joy. This family has touched us deeply. I felt I wanted to share this story with you. Anne A. In late winter of this year (2004) our women's' Church group discovered the shawl ministry when one of our women was visiting a church on vacation. She presented this idea to our group and a few 'talented' ladies signed up to make shawls. This spring, my 89 year old mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She was given the first shawl from our group. She was delighted with it and had it on her or near her bedside every day until she died 3 weeks ago. She was a very tiny woman and was always cold even though we were in the muggy days of summer. I could feel the prayers and the peace that filled her weaken body as I covered her with it when she was resting or falling off to sleep. Remarkably, my mother was in little pain during her illness. The prayer shawl was her medication. I believe the prayers family and friends were lifting up for her and especially this shawl of prayer gave Mom the gift of acceptance as she was getting ready to go home to her Father. At her wake, I displayed it next to her coffin with the letter our Church group gave us. Many of her friends touched it and said what a beautiful idea the shawl was. I now share in the gift of her prayer shawl as it comforts me and hugs me when I need it the most. May God bless this wonderful ministry and may it continue to grow. Darlene S. Willoughby, Ohio
Four years ago my mother passed away in her sleep at the age of 80. She had been taking care of me age 62 and not I of her.
I had been diagnosed with Emphsyma in 1995 and since 1997 was on oxygen 24 hours a day.
After her death it seemed that I was getting more and more despondent. I really missed her. A few months ago I read an
article in our daily newspaper about the Shawl Ministry going on in a local Church.
I was very intrigued by it and thought this is exactly what I am looking for I wonder if I could obtain a shawl.
The congregation that made the shawls is Church of Christ. Well I thought they won't make a shawl for
me I am a Catholic and they probably make them only for the parishioners. But I really wanted
a shawl and so decided to give them a call. All they could say was No.
To my surprise I received a resounding Yes, after I explained my situation. The Rev. came to my home
and presented me with a beautiful shawl of purples and pinks and said a prayer
as she draped it over my shoulders. Whenever I feel down or sick I simply don the shawl and the embracing
warmth of the Lord and the love of the maker of the shawl fills me with joy and hope.
Thank you for starting this ministry and God Bless you and all the workers who strive to help others through this labor of love.
I found your website and copied the pattern to make a shawl for a friend of mine who is a nun, she had serious cancer surgery ... I took the shawl with me to the Abbey of Gethsemane for a retreat....I took five older women in my faith community who couldn't drive and we had a wonderful retreat in silence - and they watched me knit. The word of the shawl I was making got out here in our Catholic community and the word of mouth interest has spread until we are having our first meeting tonight - August 4 - with 40 women signed up to come (some from the College where I work, some Catholic, Methodist, Quaker and others). How amazing God is.... we've found a ministry that allows women from all walks of life to be active in the church in a significant way....especially older women who no longer can get out and about.... they feel so empowered being a part of 'something'...thanks for sharing - I'm giving God and you two all the credit this evening....so know that you will be held up in prayer as we give thanks to those that taught us to use our hands for the glory of God and for those that take the time to help us on our way... Blessings - Sue K.Post Script ....the night of the meeting we had one woman who recently losther husband raise her hand to be a table leader for those who neededinstruction...there was joy on her face and a smile, something not seen forquite some time...we opened an opportunity for her to 'return' ... also thatevening, a woman who's daughter passed away, sat at a table with a friendof mine who is in discernment to enter the convent....by accident?nope....hearing the woman share her loss and the new friend tell her of theJoy of Christ and where her daughter is now.....so I sat there, amazed at theturn out, but knowing that God was present in much more than the shawlministry.....thanks for your inspiration - know that we had a Jewish woman,two Black women from the AME church and a Methodist among us as well.....Catholic means universal, and I believe that. I made a shawl for a woman I found on your request list, then sent her a note mentioning how quickly her shawl had flown off my needles, and asking for an address confirmation. She wrote back: 'What a wonderful surprise and gift! Yes, the needles must have been talking to God because this dark cloud over me has had me where I could barely get out of my house for my doctors' appts., not to say to go into a store for this past week. And today I woke, somewhat, because I did not sleep very well last night and for the first time since Jerry has been gone I could tell it was sunshine outside; Jerry's kind of day that he just loved. For the first time I felt some hope with the rest of my life. And then to get this message so early from you. What a wonderful Blessing this is!!' After I mailed the shawl, I received another note: 'I received my shawl today, and it is beautiful. My cousin had called me from her job in Norfolk, from the Navy Base (to check on me as she does from time to time), and I opened it while we talked. I started to cry because it is so beautiful and then I saw the Angel and not until the night did I see the heart (I had only seen the Angel and told my cousin; now I will have to tell her about the star). I am so thankful. I just wish Jerry could have seen the shawl. I immediately wrapped myself in it after my cousin and I finished talking and just cried and I felt comforted. Then I went to church.' The angel and heart she mentions are charms that were tied into the fringe. A few weeks before my college reunion, I felt the need to knit a shawl in yellow, our class color, and take it with me. I just had the feeling that someone there would need one. On the first night, at dinner, I was seated at a table with a classmate who, in her late forties, had just entered the seminary. I knew at that moment that she was the person for whom the shawl was intended, and invited her back to my room and gave her the shawl and a big hug. She was visibly moved. About a week after I got home, I received this note: 'THANK YOU for your kindness to me, for your discipline in keeping your hand out of the cookie jar, and for all the time my cozy, beautiful shawl took to make. I was literally struck dumb when you gave it to me. Nothing like that has ever happened to me before. Thank you so very, very much. 'I think you'll be please to realize that it wraps its loving arms around me as I pray in the morning. It even matches the fabric on my sofa, for crying out loud! I was meant to have this and you were meant to stitch it. Thank you, thank you, thank you!' Post Script: The cookie jar comment referred to a remark I'd made that I'd taken up knitting again because it was something other than eating that I could do while sitting in the living room watching TV with my son. Submitted by: Cindy G. I gave my last prayer shawl to a woman whose husband is in Iraq. She has 3 small children. They fight over who gets to sleep with it each night, so another friend of mine and I are trying to get 2 done by tomorrow to give to her so that each child will have his own. One of her children asked if his tears would hurt it. Another asked if she washed it if the prayers would wash away. WOW!! The first shawl I knit went to my sister who is 68 years old and is in the latter stages of Alzheimer Disease. Last year when I attended her husband's funeral I went to the home where is in an Alzheimer unit. She could not walk, talk, or feed herself. So I fed her her lunch one noon when I was there. A few months ago I starting knitting her prayer shawl and truly each stitch contained a prayer for her. I sent it to her a month ago. She lives a long way from me so I contact the nurse at the home to check on her. The last time talked to her she said that Jeanne was now walking, talking, humming hymns and feeding herself with a little help. She even asked if I wanted to talk to Jeanne on the phone. I said how can I do that? Jeanne came to the phone. She said hello, asked her if she knew me and she said 'yes,' Most of her conversation was yes and no. Then I asked if I could call again and she said, 'yes, but not too soon.' It is truly a miracle. Submitted by: Judith S. - Sioux Falls, S.D. November 2003, I went to a Crafters’ Prayer Day at St. Margaret’s Convent in Boston, run by the Society of St. Margaret, an Episcopal Order of nuns of which I am a lay associate. There I learned about “prayer shawls.” I decided to make one of these shawls, every stitch knitted with prayer and devotion, for I knew that someone soon would need a tangible reminder of God’s comfort. When I was in New Zealand in 2000, I was interested in seeing some sheep farming since NZ wool is famous all over the world for strength and beauty. I was lucky enough to get to Stansborough Farms in Wairapura, near Wellington. The owners raise the unique Gotland sheep, renown for gray wool. (The cloaks used in all the Lord of the Rings movies all come from Stansborough!) I brought back a fleece, had it hand-spun by master NH spinner Priscilla Parmenter, and planned to use it only for very special projects. The prayer shawl seemed to be such a project. I got bored with the pattern, so fooled around with varying it and also added the border. It was practically done, but I got bogged down with other projects. Meanwhile, many of my sixth grade students became interested in resuming their knitting or learning how to do it. Two of them, Olivia and Fern, also go to All Saints' Parish, where I am a communicant. I mentioned the prayer shawl project to them, and we decided to make a shawl for our Deacon, Jane Becker, a wonderful woman who was moving from our midst to live with her daughter in Connecticut. At the same time as the girls and I were working on Deacon Jane's shawl (strictly according to the Prayer Shawl instructions!) I decided it was time to finish the other one: the five-year old daughter of one of our parish families was diagnosed with cancer, and we wanted to show our love and support for her mother. Olivia and I finished the border on the gray shawl in a couple of days, and the three of us made the other in time to give to Deacon Jane at her retirement party. Submitted by: Christine H. Fern and Liv Gotland Wool Shawl A woman with Alzheimer's disease recently received one of our shawls. The nurse was trying to get her dressed and into the dining room for lunch. She would have no part of it, determined to stay in bed and in her nightclothes. When the nurse told her she had to get dressed because she had a visitor, she doubled her resolve to stay in her room. Our Diaconal Minister said, 'I've got a present for you.' She said, 'Really...someone has a present for me?' When presented with the shawl, she was told 'people at the church knitted this for you and they prayed for you while knitting it.' She replied, 'They knitted this for me, and they prayed for me? Well, I'm going to get dressed, go to the dining room, and show off my shawl!' Submitted by: Glenn
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