Thursday, November 03, 2011

Like a Prayer

I think I get my urge to do things with my hands from my mom.  When I was growing up, she was always doing something.  She painted pictures and walls; sewed curtains, clothes and costumes.  She was famous in the family for pushing around furniture, or reupholstering it or refinishing it.  And for a while, she tried crochet.  We took a class together at Gilberg's in the Northwood Mall back when I was thirteen or fourteen.  Neither one of us was very good at it.  She always had her tension too tight and mine just never looked right.  It was worth a shot, but it wasn't too long before both of us gave it up and moved on to other things.

Fast forward thirty five years...  I'm feeling the urge to do something, but I don't know what that is.  I'm wandering around the new Hobby Lobby looking at paints and fabrics and embroidery stuff and nothing is speaking to me - until I round the corner to the first yarn aisle.  Several of my friends online are into knitting and crochet and have been posting pictures of their various projects.  Knitting never made any sense to me but I did remember some basics about crochet.  As I wandered the yarn aisles feeling the skeins and admiring the pretty colors, I felt a pull.  Half an hour later, I walked out with a set of crochet hooks and an armload of yarn. 

It took several practice tries, but I found it was kind of like riding a bike.  You get rusty, but you never forget.  I started easy with scarves. 

I tried adding fringe.  It worked!  I made a lot of scarves. 

Then I tried hats.  Pretty good, but not as successful. 

I made dish rags (aces!!!) and fingerless gloves (meh). 

 I made some big squares of stuff but didn't know what to do with it - pillows maybe?

And since I suddenly knew a bunch of people having babies, I made baby blankets.  LOTS of baby blankets.

Now I just have to come up with the money to mail them all...

So I did all this stuff....  and then, I didn't know what to do.  Honestly, I was getting a little bored.  And, as I discovered, I was terrible at following directions when it came to crochet, so I was making stuff up on my own using the stitches (but not knowing the names) that I knew.

One night, I was on Facebook looking around at other friends' projects and wishing I had something positive I could do with the little skill I had, when my rector's wife popped on and asked if I knew about the Prayer Shawl Ministry.  Never heard of it!  She'd been cleaning out some files and run across the brochure for it and offered to send it to me.  Talk about heavenly timing...

I opened the files and it was immediately clear to me that this was what I should be doing.  I read the pattern directions for the prayer shawls and looked at some shawls that my friend Sandy was crocheting (I just thought this was something she did - didn't realize it was part of a greater ministry) and started on my first one.  I had a recipient fixed in my mind, but about halfway through, God planted another person in my head.  This person has had some pretty awful medical issues.  None of them life-threatening, but they have caused great pain for a long time and so far the doctors haven't been able to do much to alleviate it.  Fibromyalgia is no fun and there's no cure.  So with the new recipient fixed firmly in my mind, I finished it.

It wasn't exactly like the one described in the pattern - I'd tried to do something a little different with the stitches.  They turned out very pretty.

I left the completed shawl wrapped and in a gift bag on the doorknob of my first recipient.  She was so happy and surprised to find it.

When making a prayer shawl, you say a prayer for your intended recipient before you begin, then the whole time you are crocheting (or knitting - you can do either), you keep them in your mind and heart, praying for them as you stitch.  When you finish, you say another prayer for them, then make arrangements to deliver it to the recipient.  It represents many hours of prayer and work on behalf of someone else and is designed to bring comfort to the wearer.  Like wearing love around your shoulders.

My second prayer shawl knew where it would wind up from the beginning.  It's the one that most closely follows the prayer shawl pattern - but the colors are quite bold.  Most of the ones I've seen are in fairly subdued colors, but this one screamed for vibrant colors.


The recipient of this one is facing several health challenges.  Just before gallbladder surgery, he found out he also was going to be dealing with a recurrence of cancer.  I finished it just before his surgery.  He goes back to his oncologist mid-month to undergo testing to see just how his cancer had returned. 

He also appears to be a remarkably resiliant man with great faith - but it always helps to have others praying for you as well, so I made this for him so that he would know that his church family loves him and the comfort of that knowledge can be wrapped around his shoulders as he sits in various cold rooms during his treatments.

When I finished that one, I started another.  I had no idea who it was for.  Like all the others, it is imperfect.  It's an alternating off white and turqoise, meant to be three-three-three, but apparently I lost count and so I've got three-three-three-four-three-four-three-three-three...  But the pattern that emerged was nice, so I kept it and kept working on it.  It's close to finished and only now do I know who it belongs to.  Up until last night, I offered general prayers of comfort, healing and closeness to God as I crocheted.  As it turns out, those were the right prayers - the woman who will receive this will probably be saying goodbye to her husband soon.  

She has family, but they are scattered - and she has us. So in the future, when she is missing her husband she will be able to wrap herself in the love and comfort of the prayers of her church family and know that we care.

It's not quite done, but probably by the end of tomorrow.  While I do "sign" my name on these by way of a card, it's a semi-anonymous offering to represent ALL of the people who care and who pray.

If you're interested in checking this minstry out, follow this link:  Prayer Shawl


Nikki said...

You have a beautiful soul Sayre.

SwampAngel65 said...

What a beautiful thing to do for thoughtful and meaningful. They are all so pretty, too!

karisma said...

Just beautiful Sayre. I love prayer shawls and have been thinking of knitting one for a while. I put the same intent into everything I knit or crochet. I was trying to explain it to someone else once and they did not get it. It makes for a double blessing, for both the maker and the recipient. For me it brings a sense of peace, love and pure soothing of my soul to just stop and create something one stitch at a time. Sometimes I will sit and chant in my mind, words of happiness, loving or healing thoughts to the intended recipient. Pure intent and love go a long long way. Blessings to you my lovely friend. xoxoxox

Sandy said...

You explained it beautifully. When I start one without someone in mind, they are lovely. But when I make one for someone specific, it just touches me in a way that I cannot explain, but which you and Karisma did. Thanks, guys.

Karmyn R said...

That is just moving and wonderful!

Pamela said...

that you find the time to do this... unbelievable