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March 31, 2019: All Souls Pray • Wrapped in Prayer

by Kat Bethell

 A few months ago, I was facing surgery at George Washington University Hospital. On the day before the procedure, Father Jadon came to meet with me and my husband Tom, to offer prayers for both of us and for the medical team who would be caring for me early the next morning. He was carrying a gift bag.  “I’ve brought something for you,” he said.

I couldn’t guess what the surprise might be. It was a lovely, soft prayer shawl in beautiful colors. When I wrapped it around my shoulders, I had an immediate and sensory experience of prayer. I felt gratitude for the hands that created it and for the love and concern of my parish community.

During the days of my recovery, the prayer shawl was a source of comfort and a reminder to offer thanks that all had gone well. It makes me think of the transitional object – the blanket that small children carry around to soothe themselves when anxious. The shawl was soothing in much the same way.

A friend said the colors were so flattering that I should wear the shawl as a fashion item. I prefer to reserve it for moments of quiet reflection. It rests in a bureau drawer, ready for wrapping around my shoulders when I feel called to pray for my own needs or for others in distress.

I’ve learned that the All Souls needlecrafter who creates a shawl does not know the identity of the parishioner who will some day receive it, but infuses every stitch with intentional prayer that God will be present with that person.  Thus there is a spiritual connection between the maker and the recipient, knit together through the yarn. The shawl becomes a gift to both of them.

Ten years ago, founders Martha Domenico and Kathleen Scholl inaugurated the prayer shawl ministry at All Souls. On Easter, 2009, the first shawls were blessed by Father John Beddingfield. He prayed that the mission of the shawls would be to “strengthen the sick, Lord Christ, give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, shield the joyous, and encourage the fainthearted.” This is grace, I think, when the presence of the Holy Spirit is conveyed through willing hearts and creative hands at All Souls.

This week’s Message is part of a series reflecting on different prayer practices as they are experienced at All Souls. If you’d like to crochet or knit shawls for future needs, please speak with Father Jadon.

Last Published: March 27, 2019 6:21 PM
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