When I first read about the Prayer Shawl Ministry, I was struck by it’s beautiful concept. The person knitting the shawl begins with prayers and blessings for the recipient, ends with a final blessing, and prays blessings into it throughout its creation. The shawl is meant to give comfort and solace to its recipient.
I had always thought about making one of these shawls, but had never considered what it would be like to receive one. One of the most powerful times of my mother’s illness was when a staff member from her church came into her room at the hospital, bearing a prayer shawl. He was the epitome of kindness and led us in a beautiful prayer. My mom couldn’t speak, but she spent a long time entranced with the shawl. With her one good hand she felt the stitches over and over, and admired the pretty colors. It was as if she could feel all those blessings and prayers knitted into it.
The shawl has served as blanket on Mom’s bed, a shawl around her shoulders, and a lap warmer when we wheel her outside. During a particularly bad stretch that found my mother in ICU again, I wrapped up in it as I slept in a recliner in her room. As I hugged it around me I was comforted by the thought of all the people sending their love and prayers Mom’s way. Most of all, in the middle of the clinical, machine-laden world of hospitals where the effort is on to heal the body, it has served as a reminder that what really matters is the spirit.