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Prayer and Meditation

Posted by Zenaida


“Shawls…made for centuries, universal and embracing, symbolic of an inclusive, unconditionally loving, God.  They wrap, enfold, comfort, cover, give solace, mother, hug, shelter, and beautify.  Those who have received these shawls have been uplifted and affirmed, as if given wings to fly above their troubles.”

–Janet Bristow

A shawl was passed around the congregation, and as each person put their hands on the shawl it was blessed for the recipient.  Some paused a moment to pray briefly over the fabric.  Some ran their fingers over the softness and pressed their hands deeply into the folds of warmth.  Each one had compassion etched in their eyes as the shawl made it’s way through the pews.  “This shawl is dedicated to Jane Smith as she has just lost her mother.”

I was deeply touched the first time I witnessed this practice.  It was a small moment, and business proceeded as usual as the shawl took its journey through the sea of waiting hands.  It seemed a humble culmination to the hours spent in creating such a beautiful and comforting gift, but very fitting.  Each shawl is made with a specific individual in mind, and they take various forms as full shawls, pocket shawls, or even scarves.  They are all made with deep care for each person, and as a meditation practice.

I joined the group not long ago, and began my own practice of shawl making.  It was moving to take the yarn in my fingers and utter the prayer to begin the process.  I asked for focus and skill as I made this shawl with a friend in mind.  I asked to have the thoughts of well-being and comfort transmitted through the stitches in the shawl.  I asked for peace as I meditated on the struggles of this friend and my own.  It was deeply satisfying to feel the yarn move through my fingers and each knot I created  built a rhythm and flow to my thoughts as I slipped into the repetitive motions of crocheting.  My mind was freed from burdens as I took them and made something useful out of pain and suffering.  My thinking quieted, and I saw things more clearly.

It’s been wonderful to be in the process of creating this gift, and I’m greatly looking forward to having it make it’s own journey through the congregation to become not my gift, but God’s gift to my friend.

The prayer shawl ministry website is a great resource of prayers to accompany the creation and blessing of shawls, to hear others’ stories of shawls, and includes simple instructions for knitting or crocheting the shawls.

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8 Responses

  1. Caroline says:

    I love the prayer shawl ministry as well. Thank you for writing your lovely reflections on this practice.

    Do you think something like this could fly in an LDS Relief Society? Passing shawls around for prayers?

    By the way, I want to give you some $ or yarn for this project. I’ll shoot you an email. 🙂

  2. mb says:

    I once had an RS president who made shawls to wrap around new or struggling sisters. My daughter treasures one she received from her.
    And I had a stake relief society organization with a presidency that solicited crocheted squares for afghans for mourning sisters or sisters facing particularly difficult trials which theyand others lovingly pieced together and carried to homes in various far-flung corners of our stake as impressed to do so. One came to a friend of mine at very helpful time.
    So, yep, there have been sweet, RS versions of this.

  3. Two of Three says:

    This is such a lovely practice. It is the first time I have heard of it, but it makes so much sense. A shawl/quilt/scarf is physically soft and warm but can also represent the emotional, spiritual warmth that we need in times of struggle. Love the idea of putting the strength of a whole congregation or group into a gift.
    There is such healing power in the well wishes of so many.

  4. Jen G. says:

    Beautiful post. Did you already put up somewhere this prayer shawl ministry wedsite? I must have missed that. It sounds wonderful.

  5. Zenaida says:

    Thanks Caroline!
    I’m so glad similar things happen in RS.
    Sorry Jen! The website is in a link on the quote, but the website is shawlministry.com

  6. D'Arcy says:

    I love this. Thank you. I remember growing up and watching “Fiddler on the Roof” and how they wear their prayer shawls to remind them of their constant devotion to God.

    I think creating as a means of blessing others is a worthy endeavor.

  7. EmilyCC says:

    This is such a beautiful idea, Z. Thanks for sharing!

  8. G says:

    zenaida, this is powerful! thanks for sharing this, and the link… I think I really may have to learn to knit/crochet again.

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