Wrapped in a prayer

“Pray, and let God worry.”  — Martin Luther

I absolutely love to knit, and though I’m still a beginner, it is something I really enjoy.

I honestly don’t remember where I initially learned. Memory says my great-aunt taught me, but my mom says it was her. All I can tell you is that as a youngster with a set of knitting needles in hand, I was really uncoordinated and rather confused with the process. So I crocheted instead.

As the years progressed, I became quite proficient at crocheting, but I always yearned to knit. Then I was busy raising four kids so the crafts, needles, yarn and such were stuffed in boxes and forgotten about.

It was so enthralling to watch someone just knitting away – witnessing something beautiful being made in brilliant color and a soft, comforting texture. So, about five years ago, I bought a how-to book and re-taught myself.

A simple kitchen dishcloth was my first successful project, and I have a drawer full of them to prove it! From knitting dishcloths I learned to make a baby blanket – which was simple because it was basically the same pattern with more stitches. And from that blanket I started making Prayer Shawls.

When I’d accompany my mom to my dad’s doctor appointments, I usually brought my knitting. It helped soothe me, because anyone dealing with an Alzheimer’s patient knows that with each doctor appointment or test, the family will most likely hear that the is patient getting worse, not better. And so one of the first prayer shawls I made, I gave to my mom.

The beauty of a prayer shawl is that you can choose to make it for someone in particular (which I have) or make one and donate it to total stranger (which I have done, too). I made a soft-pink shawl for a neighbor with breast cancer, a few shawls for relatives, and a few for several for people that I never met.

Beginning each shawl, I’d thank God for the ability to use my hands for His work, and then to ask Him bless the person who would receive the shawl. I’d pray for the recipient to feel God’s comfort, seek His grace, and that when they needed a big hug from God, they’d put the shawl around them and feel His touch.

Last July, my mom and I were getting my dad admitted to a nursing home. I can’t even begin to articulate the sense of loss we felt. I tried so hard to keep my composure, but once I got home, I completely broke down.

I went to visit Dad the next day, and there was a brown throw on the chair at the foot of his bed. I picked it up and handed it to a nurse’s aide, explaining it didn’t belong to my dad.

With a gentle smile, she said it was in fact his.

“Someone makes and donates prayer shawls to our new residents,” she explained.

With tears in my eyes, I covered my dad with this shawl that was made with the love and prayers of a total stranger. Maybe the knitter went through placing a loved one in a nursing home and knew extra prayers were in order. It was in that moment I realized just how comforting a prayer shawl is to the recipient.

I just wish I could personally thank the person who was so generous with their time and talents. I’m guessing the best way to say thanks is to pay it forward.

Have you made or received a Prayer Shawl? Feel free to share your story.

© 2012 – Lynne Cobb

14 Replies to “Wrapped in a prayer”

  1. I’m guessing the best way to say thanks is to pay it forward.–I believe you are absolutely correct…thanks for saying it.

    Be encouraged!

  2. Prayer shawls are such beautiful gestures. My mom recieved one when she was going through cancer treatments. When she was dying, I wrapped myself in it every night. It provided great comfort to me, and I have no idea who made it or who sent it to her.

    1. I am so sorry for your loss, and I am so glad you have found comfort in the Prayer Shawl. They truly are beautiful gestures.

  3. I loved this…it was like reading about my own experience, but it was my great aunt Minnie who was blind who taught me. It is probably the most blessed gift any women in my life gave me, was to learn to knit with my eyes closed so I could see how she did it with blind eyes. I made prayer shawls but crocheted them for nieces, sister-in-laws and some friends last Christmas and I’m making them for my sisters and daughters for this Christmas. I even wrote a poem to go with them, which I may have to blog for people to use if they want. And oh, do I know how you feel. When I am crocheting or knitting, I’m praying, and leaving every to God. It is one of the most peaceful times of my day. Thank you for sharing this part of your story!

  4. Everything about prayer shawls is just so lovely — from the sentiment to the knitting!

    A quick question, Lynne: have you heard of Ravelry.com? It’s a great site for knitters and crocheters, old and new alike. I just looked it up and there were something like 34 groups on Rav all dedicated to making prayer shawls. And they have all kinds of patterns for everything.

  5. Lovely essay, Lynne! And I love the idea of the prayer shawl and the comfort it brought to both you and your dad! P.S. Sorry to be behind with your posts … rough week here!

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