Prayer Enfolds Us

A friend of mine gave me a gift shortly after I was diagnosed with breast cancer:  a prayer shawl.  She had tears in her eyes as she handed me the package and told me what it was.  The shawl is one created by a group of women who come together and share scripture and hope and love and prayers while crocheting or knitting the wraps.  My shawl is made from a variegated aqua blue, green, and white soft-as-kitten-fur yarn.  The stitches are snugged together tight enough that you can’t poke your fingers through, yet loose enough that it has give when you wrap it around your shoulders.  When I throw it around me I imagine what it would feel like to have God physically standing behind me with his hands on my shoulders, squeezing me tightly, keeping me close to Him.

I have worn my shawl to a formal ball where it graced my shoulders around an elegant party dress right next to my diamonds and pearls.   I’ve worn it as a light-weight cover to a swim meet – my “shield” against the stands of excited people nudging and pressing to get better views of races.  I wore it instead of a jacket on long, relaxing walks with Penny, my jack russel terrier.  I’ve even worn it to bed during my most frightening nights – as a comforting companion, wrapped around my shoulders, connected to me in a way Don could never be.  It’s absorbed my sweat, my tears, my fears, my insecurities, and my hopes.  It provides a warmth to me that even my finest cashmere sweater can’t touch.

My shawl has a spicey aroma blended of perfumes, incense, coffees, and life.  Penny loves to nuzzle her nose into it when she sits with me.  My kids love to stroke it with their fingertips whether it’s lying on my bed, hanging on my blanket ladder, or draped over my shoulders.  Don likes to try and pull it closer around me when I wear it.  

I feel safer, calmer, more at ease when I pull it’s fibers around me.  I believe that I can honestly feel the prayers of the women who crafted it. Prayers for healing and peace.  God’s faitful creating a masterpiece in His honor to comfort someone who needs to feel God’s physical presence in the midst of her confusion, fear, and weariness.  It has been a more frequent companion of mine over the last few weeks as I struggle to sort through some things.  My shawl has a power I can honestly feel when I wear it.  A power to calm.  A power to warm inside and out. 

I read that Mother Teresa’s sanctity was built on a very simple foundation of deep faith and trust in God.  Mother Teresa turned to Him in prayer, not only in need, but also to rest in the arms of the Father—body and spirit.  My shawl holds the collective pure energy of prayer and comforts me – body and spirt – beyond all understanding.

Prayers outlive the lives of those who uttered them.  Prayer heals.