I remember as a young girl learning to knit and crochet by my Mother's side. Over my lifetime I have made several afghans, little baby outfits, and more. It has been a source of enjoyment to me on many a cold winter evening and given me such pleasure to have a creative outlet.
Over time my interest has waned as life has kept me very busy with other things. Recently, I have begun to hear about a ministry that has sprung out of women's desire to create, comfort and nourish - the Prayer Shawl Ministry which after researching a little I understand had it's beginnings around 1998. In our community there are a few groups which have formed fairly recently to make various types of shawls to give to those in need of prayers, warmth, and the feeling of loving arms around them. Suddenly many ladies are rediscovering the wonderful feeling it gives to create something of beauty from a simple ball of yarn.
I recently have begun to crochet again since I have been blessed with two grandchildren over the past couple of years. I decided to try my hand at making them a tiny baby afghan to be used in their car seat when they traveled around from place to place. I made this for them to use, but also attached a poem written for them by me, so that they would know how much I love them and that I was thinking of them with each stitch - a sort of prayer shawl I suppose.
My husband watches me as my hands are busy making a thing of beauty out of nothing but a ball of yarn and thinks I am a miracle worker. I guess it is really a miracle of sorts - especially to get me to sit still long enough to make one. But I will tell you, that it is addictive and a very satisfying experience - the art of creating something meaningful and beautiful.
Once recently I came across a prayer shawl crochet pattern book in a craft store, couldn't resist, bought it and four 1-pound balls of yarn. Since then I have made three beautiful shawls which I intend to give away or sell so that the money will go to charity. After a ladies' meeting at our church last night there was a group of ladies talking excitedly about getting involved in the prayer shawl ministry in our community. They were making all kinds of plans to knit and crochet together and go to yarn shops to purchase yarn to make scarves and shawls to give away!
What a wonderful resurgence of interest in a nearly lost art! In this day and age of technology and so many distractions, it is amazing that the art of crocheting and knitting is making a come-back. I am quite sure that those getting involved and learning will soon find the satisfaction that it brings to create a work of art - and then when all the work is done - to give it away!
The next time you are in an antique store, take a look at the stacks of doilies that you will find there and picture ladies sitting together crocheting these delicate works of art to adorn their homes. You will find a new appreciation for this artwork when you decide to tackle a beautiful project, work on it for hours, and then lovingly bless it and give it away to someone in need. What a wonderful ministry to emerge in this crazy, mixed up world! I do believe there is hope for us yet!
Added 3/24/12: Since I have written this I have made so many beautiful shawls that are pictured on my pinterest board http://pinterest.com/memoriespast/prayer-shawls/ You might want to take a look and follow my page to see the new ones. In addition to giving them away to those people who have a need, I plan to have them available in my store http://www.hendersonmemories.com/ for sale with all the money going to my First Christian Church Women's Ministry who will use the money to do outreach in our community. That way those who cannot crochet can still be able to give one to someone they know who would love to know that others are praying for them.
In visiting with a couple of nice ladies who came into my store today, I learned that they are involved in a prayer shawl ministry in Boonville, IN, but they also make up hat boxes with a beautiful hat inside and other gifts to give to ladies who have undergone chemotherapy and have lost their hair - what a wonderful ministry!
Anyone who thinks that this world is going the wrong direction and all is doomed, need to know about such ministries. The giving spirit of people has amazed me, and I know that God is at work in all of us - and I have faith that all will be OK! I just can't make the shawls fast enough - and the joy comes when they are given away!