Be joyful even though you have considered all the facts...practice resurrection. -Wendell Berry

Friday, March 6, 2009


In the past, I have been an active participant in our church's Shawl Ministry. Meeting every other week, we are a group of folks who sit in a circle of silence for about twenty minutes. Sometimes we listen to quiet music, the soft clicking of knitting needles adding to the meditation. Then we light a chalice and someone shares a reading. After a good bit of conversation, we close by blessing all the shawls we are working on. We do sort of an old fashioned "laying on of hands" with our palms spread out on the shawls and we recite in unison, 

May divine grace be upon this shawl...
Warming, comforting, enfolding and embracing.
May this mantle be a safe haven...
A sacred place of security and well-being...
Sustaining and embracing...
In good times, as well as difficult ones.
May the one who receives this shawl
Be cradled in hope, kept in joy,
Graced with peace,
And wrapped in love.

-Janet Bristow (adapted)

The shawls we make are given away to mark births, deaths, illnesses, life transitions, in celebration, in other words, these shawls spread love out into the world.  Each shawl is documented with a page to describe the yarn used, the pattern, who made it and who it was given to and these pages are collected in loose leaf notebooks. 

I was honored with one of these shawls when I went in for my surgeries two years ago.  I felt the blessings of my women friends, wrapped about my shoulders, especially in the middle of the night, when I felt most challenged in my medical adventure. The doctors and nurses who worked with me were intrigued by my shawl.

I have been away from this circle of women for a while.  I am feeling that I would like to find my way back to them. I finished the two shawls in the photo above within the past few months. They need to be wrapped up and tucked away in the closet at church, awaiting the next person who might appreciate their warmth, both physical and spiritual.

Check here for a lovely book about prayer shawls.
And here to find out more about shawl ministry. 

(I want to remind readers that I don't think spirituality depends on religion and churches, temples or other houses of worship. And I am not married to the word "prayer". All of that stuff is so personal. I just think it's important to live intentionally.)


  1. Hi Karen,
    Your post is very beautiful and comforting.

  2. I cannot tell you how beautiful I think this idea is. Years back, when I went through a very rough period of time (health-wise), I would have greatly appreciated one of these shawls. What I did receive, however, was comfort from unexpected sources. One of these sources was your mother, and we've been dear friends ever since.
    These shawls could be made from soft quilted fabric also...
    I really love this idea, Karen.

  3. Judy, I have often thought about a quilted shawl, but I have not yet tried one. I think I like the portability of knitting and the idea of one strand of yarn creating the whole shawl. But I may still try a quilted shawl one of these days......and thanks for the sweet reference to my Mom, I know she is very fond of you, too. - Karen