Story by Laurie Grathen
(Editor's note: if you didn't read part 1 you can find it here)
As I was knitting it, as the colors worked up, the greens reminded me of prairie fields, the tans of beach sand, the blues of oceans and skies, and the purple of mountains majesty. And it occurred to me, out of the blue, that I should name the shawl America the Beautiful. And as this occurred to me, I also felt moved to pray for this shawl in a manner that kept patriotism and love of country in sharp focus. It was a revelatory experience to be so “in tune” with this particular shawl and aware of a specific purpose in the prayers I should be embedding into the fiber of the piece.
I turned the shawl in to the ministry leader and explained how intensely personal the making of it had become, so personal that I’d actually named it. She just smiled, having seen many times over, how God works in ministry. Later, she reported that America the Beautiful was given to a woman in the Bible Study group who came every week, burdened heavily by the need to pray for our country. I was stunned at how God works, and how blessed I felt to be a part of it.
Unbeknownst to me at the time….that was just the beginning.
My next shawl, candy apple red, was named Nothing But the Blood of Jesus. The name came to me as I was praying for the person who would eventually get the shawl. As usual, I had no idea who that would be. The ministry leader reported that the shawl was given to a woman in the Bible Study to pass on to her college roommate whose colon had just burst. It was passed on to her the morning she was preparing for surgery. Again, amazed at the relevance of how God was using the prayer shawl ministry, and me, I was humbled and blessed.
I continued in the ministry and added a goal of creating 100 Prayer Shawls to my bucket list.
The next shawl, a deep purple color called Baroque, and named Our King Reigns, went to a prayer warrior who I personally know trusts God completely and told me she loves baroque music. Then a forest green colored shawl I named FROGGY (Fully Rely on God) went to a woman who’d been struggling with unforgiveness on behalf of another person.
I made a shawl from yarn called Purple Haze in a different pattern that turned out so awful I tore it apart. When I later picked up the yarn and reknit it into the traditional rectangle I named it Second Chances. It went to a woman who was in treatment for drug and alcohol addiction. I made another one in a color called Ecru that I felt led to the name Purity. That shawl was given to a visiting missionary to take back with her to South Africa to give to one of the women who ministers to who struggle in a culture where men want to try them out to see if they’ll bear children before they marry them.
One shawl was made of a pink and white variegated yarn called Cherry Blossom. I also named it Cherry Blossom because I couldn't get Washington DC out of my head as I was making it. That shawl ended up in the hands of a woman who is the wife of a military man. Another shawl was made with a different, very sparkly yarn in vibrant purple, cobalt and gold colors. I named it Surrounded by Your Glory and it was given to a woman whose husband died far too young.
As the years passed in the prayer shawl ministry, the yarns and patterns changed. I started crocheting some of them and knitting different patterns. In 2021, just before we moved to Florida, I turned over to the ministry my 70th prayer shawl.
Somewhere along the way I fell seriously in love with the creative aspect of knitting and crocheting. I continued the prayer shawl ministry, but also began branching out into the design and construction of other items that interested me, or that others were interested in having.
Now, so perfect because it’s Thanksgiving Week, it’s appropriate for me to note how grateful I am for how the prayer shawl ministry changed my life. We all need a sense of purpose. My life is so enriched by the prayers I’ve been led to pray in creating shawls, and in the stories I’ve heard back from those who received the shawls.
When my dad died, 5 years ago next month, I asked the ministry leader to send my mom a prayer shawl, though not one made by me. My mother still often wraps herself in that shawl and tells me how comforted by it she is. And I’ll never forget the day one of the other women came to my office and presented ME with a prayer shawl that she’d made specifically for me. I’m not ashamed to say that I sobbed thinking that someone thought I was worthy to be prayed for and to receive a prayer shawl. I tear up as I write this post, just thinking about how much of a blessing everything connected with being a part of this ministry has been.
Happy Thanksgiving! My prayer for you, dear reader, it that you celebrate thankfulness every day of the year. I know each of you has things you are particularly thankful for. Please, share your thankfulness with us this week in the comments.
P.S. In a future post I’ll give you a tour of some of the non-ministry knitting and crocheting creations I’ve tackled. But Randy and I are headed out this morning to the Carolinas to spend a couple of weeks with friends and family, so next week’s post will be something interesting (I hope) from our road trip.
Editors note. If you would like to get involved in the Prayer Shawl Ministry in the Camdenton/Osage Beach area, or want to start one in your area, contact Kristina Webb at Flocks LLC here
For more stories from Our High Places, click https://www.ourhighplaces.com/
To read more of Laurie's stories and observations about life go to 68 and Counting here