Knitters and crocheters all over the world are hard at work making prayer shawls. Have you heard of them? These are the most amazing garments I have ever seen. It's not because they are complex or because they use fantastic colors or stitches. It is because they are so simple, yet so powerful.
The best description of a prayer shawl I've seen comes from Janet Bristow and Victoria Galo. They say:
Whether they are called: "Prayer Shawls", "Comfort Shawls", "Peace Shawls" or "Mantles" just to name a few; the knitter begins each shawl with prayers and blessings for the recipient. Intentions are continued throughout the creation of the shawl. When the shawl is completed it is offered a final ritual before being sent along its way. Some recipients have continued the kindness by making one themselves and passing it onto someone in need. Thus, the blessing is rippled from person to person, with both the giver and receiver feeling the unconditional embrace of a sheltering, mothering God!
You can learn about their ministry at http://www.shawlministry.com/
Shawls can be knit (or crocheted) for a variety of people. They can be created for people who are undergoing medical procedures, people suffering a loss, people getting married, people having a baby, women nursing a baby, as a bridal shower gift, for any major rite of passage, as a ministry to others, or just as a special gift to a person you love.
What an amazing gift! I believe (and you can read about it more in my Be Still & Knit Philosophy on my website at www.bestillandknit.com) that your feelings, love, and caring are knit right into a garment as you think about the recipient. Those feelings remain and get passed on to whoever receives the shawl. Even if you are just knitting a shawl for a women's shelter or a hospital ward and you don't know the recipient personally, the love and prayers you say as you knit the shawl will be passed along.
Imagine how wonderful it would feel to receive one of these shawls when you walked into a hospital for your first chemo treatment. Picture yourself wearing one as you nurse your baby. Envision placing one on the shoulders of a friend whose mother just died. Wow! What amazing power these shawls can bring. It's like having a hug around you with all the love, warmth, and strength of God.
Prayer shawls are not unique to any particular faith. The intentions of love and peace that you bring to the shawls transcend religious practices. No matter what your belief, I know that giving someone a sense of peace and stillness through your knitting would bring blessings to you and to them.
If you are interested in starting a knitting group, think about making these amazing shawls. They are easy to do in a group setting and there is great power in bringing a group of knitters together to serve others.
As a group, you can make a larger quantity of the shawls that would benefit many people. Contact your local churches, shelters, hospitals, funeral homes, and birth centers to see who would best benefit from your work. You will thank yourself!
Lisa Akers is the president of Be Still & Knit. Her company teaches women how to find peace and stillness in their lives through handwork. By discovering knit and crochet, women develop a new way to take time for themselves and share the love they have as warm clothing! Find out more about Lisa at www.bestillandknit.com or listen to her podcast at www.peacefulknitter.com.