JANE—Thank you for your column about prayer shawls. I also wanted to tell you that I started knitting scarves, blankets, and shawls in 2009 for friends who were battling cancer. I live in Virginia and my first was for a woman at my job who was diagnosed with breast cancer, it took me a week.
I told her that it was made from all my prayers and tears and we became very close and I thought I’d tell you that the prayer shawls do work wonders for people who need that. For anyone who wants to knit them, there are pattern books out there with nice designs. Thanks, Sean.
LAURIE—Hey! I want to knit these shawls for people! How do I get started!?
BARB—Is membership to the knitting club open? Do you have patterns?
GINGER—We Baptists are busy making shawls and hats, too. With the onset of COVID-19 and little to do except knit I have made and donated 85 hats for this winter. Forty went to our Mission for the homeless, and 45 went to our veterans home. Last year I only made 40 total. This year I had a lot more spare time. Thank you so much.
SANDIE—I was the recipient of a prayer shawl when I contracted an autoimmune disorder that my doctors could not figure out. My shawl was given to me by friends from Saint Michael Catholic Church who told me their whole church group prayed for me.
My autoimmune problem eventually lessened into a non-existent issue and is still considered to my doctors as a mystery.
Please don’t mistakenly think this is a miracle blanket, it’s so much more than that.
MARTINA—My mom knit me one for when I was at the hospital with my 9-year-old son. He had a brain tumor. We used the shawl to keep him warm because those hospitals get so cold at night in many more ways than one.
I now cover up with it all the time along with one of his old T-shirts as they are our only link to my son.
ANDREW—I live in San Antonio and got a prayer blanket from a woman I don’t even know when I was going through prostate stuff. It touched me so incredibly reading this, Sean. I never knew that about my shawl. Thank you.
ANONYMOUS—Where do I begin? I received a prayer mantel from my American mother—I live in New Zealand and was born here before my mother abandoned us and went back to the United States. My mother and I are essentially estranged from one another and I have always had many mixed feelings about her.
I am not religious, but I did begin to wear the shawl. The more often I wore it the more I recalled happier days with the woman I used to call “Mum.”
We are now talking again on the phone and via email. I believe these are my first steps to letting go of anger. Don’t use my name, I wish to remain anonymous.
SARAH—When my dad died I started knitting shawls with patterns from a book about them. I always give them away in secret.
With each scarf I pray for people’s pain to be relieved, is what I do.
BRYAN—I am Church of Christ, but my Methodist wife knits prayer blankets and prayer shawls so I packed one blanket up and sent it to my granddaughter since she was having a hard time after getting rejected from a big university so she knew that Nana and Paw Paw are praying for her.
JESSICA—My grandmother is sick, but I remember she used to make these shawls with her church friends. I think I am going to look into making them, too. I don’t even know how to knit.
MARY—I make them with my women’s group. Most of us are in our 70s and 80s, Sean! We pray over each one before we send them out into the world and our priest usually offers a blessing over all garments as they sit in a pile. I started knitting them when my husband’s brother was in a fatal car accident.
GAIL—I am an old Methodist who crochets blankets for tiny babies struggling past medical hardships that I’d like not to imagine, most of them at John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, St. Petersburg, Fla. I am now working on blanket number 413 that I’ve created in the past six years.
I’ll never see these babies and never know their families but in every stitch I crochet there is a prayer from this old Methodist that these wee ones will have a good chance to grow into childhood, run and play, color pictures, and build things.
But, when I crochet the white blankets for bereavement I know they will lay over a still little body that will never grow up.
When I crochet the purple ones I know they carry a message, placed over a little bed in a hospital room, reminding nurses and staff to refrain from congratulation wishes because a family is grieving over a stillborn child.
White, purple, or a wide range of colors, it doesn’t matter. All the blankets carry a message of compassion and deep felt love from this old Methodist.
ANONYMOUS—My daughter would sit in the hospital bed [with her shawl] and sing to the nurses every night, she had an amazing voice for singing all the Disney songs and knew every word. Everyone would love it when she did because they knew, like we all knew, that she would not be here much longer.
I will continue to wear my little angel’s shawl every day until I see her again one day.
ME—To everyone who messaged me: God bless you.