I never heard of a prayer shawl (AKA comfort shawls, peace shawls) until just recently. I was submiting prayer requests to various churches and kept seeing the words “prayer shawl ministry” on some of the sites. Eventually, out of curiosity, I clicked on one of the churches websites to find out what this was about.
I am so glad I did!!
Shawls can be used for: undergoing medical procedures; as a comfort after a loss or in times of stress; during bereavement; prayer or meditation; nursing a baby; during an illness and recovery; there are endless possibilities!
The shawl maker begins with prayers and blessings for the recipient. The prayers are continued throughout the creation of the shawl. Upon completion, a final blessing is offered before the shawl is sent on its way. It is the hope that the recipients receive the feeling of the unconditional embrace of a sheltering, mothering God!
I contacted a church near my home and requested to purchase a prayer shawl for a very, very important person in my life. When I arrived they let me choose the shawl I wanted and asked me to pick out a charm to attach to the shawl. I chose a very soft, silky feeling one with beautiful colors of various hues of blue, light green and a hint of white. As I held it to my face, the feeling of comfort it provided was just what I wanted. They told me each stitch was created with prayer for its unknown recipient. They provided me with the honor of praying over it with them before I took it with me. I could not believe they would not take any money for this beautiful shawl! I mailed it the next day to the very special person in my life.
While I was at the church waiting for all of the ladies who gather each week to knit these lovely shawls, one of the women struck up a conversation with me. While we were talking I told her a friend of mine just discovered she had breast cancer the week before. She insisted I take a scarf version she just completed to give to my friend. We chose a lovely charm for this one as well.
It is my sincere desire that the two recipients of these beautiful prayer shawls will feel the love, care, and support these shawls represent.
I found the following explanation of how this ministry got started: “In 1998, Janet Severi Bristow and Victoria Galo, two graduates of the 1997 Women’s Leadership Institute at The Hartford Seminary in Hartford, Connecticut gave birth to a ministry as a result of their experience in this program of applied Feminist Spirituality under the direction of Professor Miriam Therese Winter, MMS. Compassion and the love of knitting/crocheting have been combined into a prayerful ministry and spiritual practice which reaches out to those in need of comfort and solace, as well as in celebration and joy. Many blessings are prayed into every stitch.”