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Home : Community : Customer Gallery : Lord, Bless the Work of My Hands
 

Customer Projects - Get Inspired

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Lord, Bless the Work of My Hands
Created By: Melanie Werley

My life changed in October, 2003, when I attended a workshop about Prayer Shawl Ministry that was led by Janet Bristow and Victoria Galo. As I entered the room where the workshop was to be held, I knew that my life was about to change. There were women knitting and talking, there were other women knitting in silence. There were also women, like me, who watched the others and wondered about what we were getting into! My wonder was not fear. There was a peaceful atmosphere in the room, and I wanted to be a part of it.



Since that workshop in 2003, I have knitted and presented 113 prayer shawls. Prayer Shawl Ministry has become a spiritual practice for me, and a day isnít complete unless I can set aside time to pray and knit at least a few stitches. As I knit I am drawn into the presence of all those for whom I have prayed and knitted . . . those experiencing serious illness, the death of a parent, grandchild, child, or spouse; a bride or mother-to-be; a new grandchild or a favorite aunt; the victims of Hurricane Katrina; a young woman experiencing infertility; the mother of a son in the military; ordination, graduation, retirement, birthday or a couple for their commitment ceremony; a prayer stole for a pastor (spouse).



I try to present the shawls in person whenever possible. I have begun fringing my shawls with yarns of coordinating colors, leftover yarn from other shawls. This is a powerful way for me to weave together the lives of all those for whom I have knit shawls. Each shawl also has 3 prayer beads sewn along one of the edges, reminding the recipient of the symbolism of the pattern of 3ís used to knit the shawl. I always attach I cross charm, and often add other personalized charms to lift up significant occasions. The actual presentation includes a verbal explanation of the pattern of 3ís and its significance, and an explanation that a prayer has been knit into every stitch. The Prayer Shawl wraps the recipient in my prayers and becomes a physical ďprayer hug.Ē Praying with shawl recipients has become an important part of the ritual.



There are numerous stories of shawl recipients that I hold dear, but there is one that I often share with groups when I speak with them about the ministry. I always knit in the car. If we are traveling and Iím not driving, I am knitting! Each summer we travel to a cottage on a lake in Ontario for a week-long vacation. Over the years, friendships have developed with people in neighboring cabins. One summer on the way to Ontario, I was knitting a shawl, but really didnít know who its recipient would be. When we arrived at the cabin, we learned that our neighbor had struggled through a year of cancer, chemo, and hair loss. As she shared her story with us, I knew that I needed to finish the shawl to give to her by the end of the week. Well, I did complete the shawl and it was received with such gratitude and love that that day still lingers in my soul. The following summer, our friend did not accompany her family to the lake. She had died during the previous year. The family shared with me that they had passed the shawl along to someone else struggling with cancer, and that the shawl was now with that woman somewhere in the wilderness of Canada.



I have been blessed by this ministry, and it has become a part of who I am. When I close my eyes, I am surrounded by a cloud of witnesses, all wearing their prayer shawls!






 
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