Knitting as Ministry

My church has an active prayer shawl ministry. Each week five or ten or more shawls are placed on the altar rail during the offering. These shawls go to our local Hospice House, to members of the congregation and beyond to offer comfort and prayers. It's a beautiful, blessed ministry.

I am a knitter. I am not part of this ministry. I thought I would be when it started, a few years ago, but I never jumped in and did it. I've never felt a calling to that ministry, even though I am a knitter, and could certainly knit the shawls. I've posted the photo above in order to show you how prolific and wonderful the ministry it; none of the projects are my work.

I have knitted two prayer shawls in my life. Both of them were for good friends of ours who had lost parents. One of them I just finished, and one was knit in 2006. The friends are husband and wife; the four of us -- well, I don't have words, but this couple is very special to us.

What I have noticed about knitting prayer shawls is that it becomes a compulsion. I knit late into the night, I knit in the car, in the movies, at lunch, at church meetings. I just HAVE to work on it. Knitting for me is usually a relaxing, creative enterprise. Prayer shawl knitting is in no way relaxing. I must do it, and I must finish the shawl as soon as possible. As I work, I find myself setting daily row goals. As I get closer to the end, those goals become larger and larger, and my drive to complete them becomes even stronger. When I finish, there is a wonderful sense of completion and relief. It is as if there is a call to FINISH it, and get it where it needs to be.

I suppose if I were knitting shawls for people I didn't know, I would have that drive about it, but I can't imagine doing this all the time.

All of that said, knitting these two shawls was a worshipful experience. It's not one I would trade for anything. I can't imagine that knitting a generic shawl would have that same kind of spiritual attachment.

I think I'll stick to my regular socks and failed sweaters.