Friday, March 31, 2006

Shawls and Prayer

Shawl and Prayer Ministry

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18 RSV

“Jeff” knitted a shawl for his wife, and while knitting and purling, he prayed for her recovery from cancer. He and his siblings learned knitting from their mother. Although he hadn't held knitting needles in years, the technique returned. He not only crafted a shawl for his wife, but he knit four more.

Local knitter Laurie Sauers embraces the ancient art, and knitted and prayed over a shawl she presented to a veteran, who has no family. She’s working on her second shawl.

In 1998, Vicky Galo, began knitting shawls and praying for women who had breast cancer. Other knitters joined in the handiwork, and the shawl-knitting ministry began. When knitters meet, needles click, prayers rise, and a variety of colors, textures and patterns are individualized.

Shawls are given for celebrations such as births, anniversaries, friendships, and professional and personal achievements. Also, they are given to prison ministries and to comfort the grieving and ill.

The knitters believe a basic human need is swaddling. Infants sense security in a snug, warm blanket. Children and adults alike are fond of wrapping a favorite blanket around themselves and settling into a comfortable spot for rest.

Most have witnessed toddlers clutching frazzled “blankies.” The condition of the frayed fabric didn't seem to matter. When my children were young, and their favorite security blanket needed washing, they’d weep by the washing machine, separation from their beloved wrappers unbearable. They remained slightly miffed until they once again clutched their warm-from-the-dryer “blankies.”

The prayer shawl ministry recognizes this basic human need, and they add the important skein of prayer. Susan Izard says there is an old saying: “Our hands are God’s hands.” She understands that “God works through us when we care for friends and strangers alike.”

Prayer-knitters believe that the mystery of God’s unconditional love unravels a bit for all involved as celebrants and the chaos-cloaked benefit from this ministry covering people in prayer and shawls. The Christian knitters aspire to “be imitators of God, as beloved children and live in love” (Ephesians 5:1).

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