What are they? Over the centuries, shawls have been made to provide warmth and comfort. They have come to symbolise shelter and peace, and they have been used in some faiths for prayer. In 1998, Conneticut USA, Janet Severi Bristow and Victoria Galo - graduates from the 1997 Women's Leadership Institute at The Hartford Seminary in Hartford - developed a prayer shawl ministry. Their idea was to make garments crafted with intentions/blessings/prayers, and then to give them away to someone who needed comfort or solace.
Today, knitters and crocheters of all faiths and philosophies around the world are creating these handmade shawls or scarves. Sometimes they are called prayer shawls, blessing shawls, comfort shawls, peace shawls - whatever the name, the actions are the same.
Photo By: Shana Sureck - The Hartford Courant August 7, 2002
Who Are Prayer Shawls For? Shawls can be given away for many occasions and situations: for times of thankfulness, or sorrow. They can be given when someone is undergoing medical procedures, has been told they have a terminal diagnosis, or when they have been bereaved. They can also be given to someone who is leaving home, getting married, or having a baby. The shawl maker begins with blessings or prayers for the recipient. These intentions are continued throughout the creation of the shawl. When completed, a final blessing may be offered before the shawl is passed on. Some people who have received a prayer shawl have gone on to make a shawl for someone else - in this case, the blessings ripple from one shawl to the next - helping people feel connected with one another and reminding them that there is great kindness and compassion in humanity. The one who makes and gives, is just as blessed as the one who receives.
At St Marys Market We are promoting shawl ministry and inviting people of all faiths around the island to join us! We can provide you with a starter bag containing wool, needles and a choice of patterns for you to make a garment of blessing, or you can find other patterns here: http://www.shawlministry.com. You could also buy a bag for a friend or neighbour who might like to be involved! We invite you to make a donation towards the cost of the bag. Any money we raise will go towards the ongoing costs of the shawl ministry, the work of the community market and the work of the church.
If you have someone in mind to give the shawl to, you can give it to them directly. You can also return the completed garment to St Mary’s Market, where we will bless it and distribute it for you. We have included some blessings and prayers that you can draw on, as you begin and continue to make the shawl. You might also like to copy a blessing into a card, to give to the person who will receive your shawl.
We plan to meet as a shawl ministry group at St Mary’s Market, but please call into the Market or look at our Facebook page for more details and online events.
Making a garment is a spiritual practice, so before beginning the knitting (crochet) process, you can say a blessing, prayer or wish, dedicating the work of your hands and your intentions towards the receiver. You may want to light a candle and play soft music to enhance your knitting (crochet) time. As you create your garment with prayer and blessing, we hope that you will feel connected with others who are doing the same around the Island and across the world. May you know that you are part of our community of kindness, sharing something of God’s love and compassion towards neighbours and strangers. May you be as blessed by the making and giving as the one who accepts your gift will be blessed by receiving it.
Thanks to the Shawl Ministry for the blessings.
Blessings for the creator of the shawl
Bless these needles/this hook with strength and light so that they don't weary the hands that hold them;
bless this wool with softness and gentleness to create a cloth of warmth and comfort; bless these hands with skill and creativity so that they make gifts of beauty; bless this heart with patience and perseverance to see this work through to completion; bless the person who receives this gift with compassion and peace that their burdens may be lightened and their hearts gladdened with the realization that they are loved.
2. Blessings for the recipient of the shawl
May you feel enfolded and comforted As you wrap this garment around you.
May the kindness and compassion with which it has been created Strengthen your spirit. May the patience and love with which it has been crafted Bring you peace.
May you be as blessed in this receiving as the one who made this has been blessed by giving.
I light this candle as a reminder of Your presence as I begin.