How do I answer?, “Why a Prayer Shawl Ministry?” Let me begin by thanking my Aunt Rosetta and Cousin Jennifer. If it were not for their patience, guidance, and influence on me as a young girl, I would not have been able to leverage my creativity as a venue for embracing those in need. Second, much of my desire to symbolically wrap my arms around those in need was inspired through my own experiences with family members, and friends who just needed to know someone cared. I thank my mom for the gift of grace and tenacity. I hope my faith journey models hers. I know I’m trying. She was and is my spiritual model.
Well, here we go. Three years ago, I was escorted out of one of the larger fortune 500 companies with about 265 other employees as a result of an involuntary reduction in force. I remember how frightened I felt, how alone I felt, how angry I felt. During that time in my life, my mother had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease as well as lung cancer. I felt I was living a living hell with my brothers inability to believe my mothers diagnosis and believe in me. To some, my troubles may seem menial. To me they were monumental. I was living the life of the baby boomers sandwich generation. One hand was to feed my family while the other was to comfort a parent whose memory deteriorated with every breath. With my arms wide open, I looked up and prayed harder than I had ever prayed in my life. God, what am I to do? How I needed a symbolic embrace!
As I prayed, I asked God for guidance, patience, and the strength to strive. To stay positive and moving forward, the sewing machine called my name. I started making custom purses, helping out the ladies in rehab to better their lives. Between interviews, writing introductory letters and looking for a job, I spent hours with the creations I was making on the Sewing machine.
Designing custom bags lasted only a short while; for something was missing. At the time, I said I was no longer creating unique items. I lost the fun in it, I said. From sewing, I moved to knitting. The knitting began as a method of redirecting my nervous energy thru the creation of comfort clothes or items.
Well, as time elapsed, my mom passed away, and my worries about how I would be able to provide for my family were left in Gods hands. We have not been without. I have been able to secure work and enjoy it. The past three years have been an eye opener for me as well as a gift. I have prayed and thought very hard how I can give of myself in a way that would comfort, and help people who need just that extra hug as I did three years ago.
I have experienced much loss in my life where many times, Gods embrace comforted me. Guess the longer you live, you can say that. But when someone mentioned the Prayer Shawl Ministry to me one day , while I was rummaging through a Yarn shop, the preverbal light bulb went off in my head. That instance, I realized, I had found my hug. God had spoken. Alas, the Prayer Shawl Ministry. So, through my creativity I am able to put a huge hug around and comfort individuals, families, children, the sick and lonely.
Once my Prayer Shawl Ministry was announced on the Women’s Ministry bulletin board at church, I felt blessed to have received so many women interested to participate.
Out of all the inquiries, one comes to mind. It was a phone call I received from Caryl Wenzke. As you know, Caryl Wenzke is one of the Chaplans for Park Ridge Hospital. After reading about my Prayer Shawl Ministry, Caryl contacted me. Caryl mentioned to me she had been praying for months on how to start up a Prayer Shawl Ministry for the Oncology Unit at Park Ride where two of the beds are dedicated to hospice as well as using the prayer shawls in more places throughout the hospital. When she saw my notice, she felt her prayers were answered. Mind you, Caryl and I never spoke to each other about our own desire to embrace those in need through a Shawl Ministry. So we both were in shock to learn , I created the ministry for which she desired to begin and she had the outreach for those I could embrace. There you have it. Two women trying to serve the Lord individually and were able to come together as one.
Still in our infancy stage, our ministry knits about 3 - 4 shawls a month. We use a variety of homespun yarn because it is soft. We go on knitting frenzies where some months we knit and knit. Others we have other responsibilities. We have touched so many lives I can not count any more. With our effort, I was able to collaborate with a friend Judy Roth of St. Josephs of Perington, New York. Our efforts, kicked off our first annual Greater Rochester Knitting/Crocheting event. This event brought together the handy work of 25 churches around the greater Rochester region. We were all touched by everyones handy work and how many people we have helped and touched by our gifts. At the event, a local Rabbi and a Jewish Neighbor shared how the Tally came about and its significance for the Jewish faith. I can send photos at another time.
Thanks so much