Making A Difference, One Shawl at a Time
By Alice Nash
“Whether they are called Prayer Shawls, Comfort Shawls, Peace Shawls, or Mantles, etc, the shawl maker begins with prayers and blessings for the recipient. The intentions are continued throughout the creation of the shawl. Upon completion, a final blessing is offered before the shawl is sent on its way. Some recipients have continued the kindness by making a shawl and passing it onto someone in need. Thus, the blessing ripples from person-to-person, with both giver and receiver feeling the unconditional embrace of a sheltering, mothering, God!”
From Shawl Ministry Website (http://www.shawlministry.com)
When I heard about the explosion in West, TX in April, I felt that I should try to help. Most of the nation’s attention was on the bombings in Boston, and in our area, there really wasn't much attention on the West, TX incident. I am a member of an online group of prayer shawl knitters. One of the other members asked if some of us would be interested in making some prayer shawls to mail to First United Methodist Church in Waco, TX. FUMC Waco had members who lived in West and were affected by the explosion. I went on their website and noticed a lot of posts about fundraising efforts. Most of them were by a Rev. Steve Ramsdell. I had 3 shawls already made up and decided to set a goal of having 4 more made before I shipped them off to FUMC Waco. After I completed the shawls, printed up a card to put in each shawl, I mailed them out on April 30th. I also enclosed a letter telling Rev. Steve Ramsdell how inspired I was by his church coming together to help out their neighbors in West.
On May, 11th, I came home to find a card and a box both addressed to me from West, TX. The card was from Rev. Su Milam. She is the leader of the Prayer Shawl Ministry at FUMC Waco. She wanted to thank me for the beautiful shawls that I had sent. My shawls were going to be going to the nursing home residents who were forced to move into new nursing homes near Waco. The box was from one of the members of the Shawl Ministry. She wanted to thank me for sending the beautiful shawls. She sent me some bracelets from another ministry of their church. Each one says God is BIG Enough. I have since emailed with Rev. Su and she told me that the residents of the nursing homes were so thankful to receive my shawls. She also told me of how she wished I could have seen their faces light up when they received one of my shawls. She also wanted to ask how I found out about the need for prayer shawls. She was so amazed of how all of this happened, she wrote a blog post on the church website. It can be found at http://www.fumcwaco.org/fumcblog/ , it is titled God is Big Enough and it shows a photo of some of my shawls with Schenectady, NY 12304 from the return address on the box.
I have been crocheting and knitting prayer shawls since October of 2005. My first prayer shawl went to the aunt of my then boyfriend who was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She was a Methodist missionary. I know that the shawl provided her with comfort. I have made shawls for family, friends, and for people I don’t even know. The recipients have been cancer patients, tornado victims, injured soldiers, people recovering from surgery, and others. I have made them for the people of West, TX, Tornado victims in Kansas, and for a crisis pregnancy center in Louisiana. I pray for each person as I am making the shawl. The shawls carry no magical powers, they are meant to offer comfort. I find that I am more focused on praying when I am crocheting or knitting.
My shawls may not change the world, but they may change a life and brighten someone’s day, at least for a little while.
Since I wrote that article, there is a small group of us that have decided to start a Christian based knitting/crocheting/sewing ministry. We will make prayer shawls, baby items, and hats for the homeless. Each of us has a strong point. Some like to knit hats, some like to make prayer shawls, and some like to make items for newborns or preemies. Each one of us will hopefully make a difference in someone's life. Just like my 7 shawls brightened the day of 7 people I never met.