A couple weeks ago, while taking a class at a local yarn shop, I spotted some blush pink, wool yarn with tiny black flecks spun into it. The yarn spoke to me – the soft pink reminded me of early springtime here in Southern Appalachia, with the soft pinks of cherry trees soon making their appearance. The black flecks reminded me of the black ashes I would soon have traced in the shape of a cross on my forehead for Ash Wednesday.
After hearing a call to personal growth during the Ash Wednesday service last week, I decided to make a prayer shawl just for me with this pink and black flecked yarn. I had made numerous prayer shawls for others this past year, but I reminded myself that my soul needed attention, too. Those of us active in our churches tend to find ourselves very busy ministering to other people. We serve as greeters and lectors, pack up Christmas gifts for the homeless, attend committee meetings and generally lend a listening ear or a warm hug to those in need in our communities. Lent is a time not to forget all those tasks, but to remember that you need to work on yourself, too.
My personal prayer shawl, like those I make for others, uses a simple pattern I don’t have to think about. I’m using a triple moss stitch – 3 knits, 3 purls, repeat – so that I can both zone out of day-to-day life but still stay alert enough to think and focus on my spiritual issues. We all need a fairly simple pattern for our lives, I think. We need structure and a pattern that doesn’t overwhelm us, one that keeps us from veering into chaos. But we need to keep ourselves alert and at least a little challenged as well.
This Lent, as I sit quietly knitting my pale pink prayer shawl, speckled with the black ashes of Lent, I think about how far I’ve come since becoming widowed 2 years ago. I also think about the challenges and personal growth I still need to work on. Like the progress on my personal prayer shawl, I’ve made much progress, and I’m developing into a recognizable shape. But I’ve still got a good bit of work in front of me. With God’s help, each day this Lenten season, I’ll spend a few minutes each day in quiet knitting and prayer. I’ll work on the fabric of my life, watching it grow and stretch into something complete and whole, one stitch at a time.
With Blessings for a Holy Lent, Cindy
Cynthia Coe is the author of The Prayer Shawl Chronicles, interrelated stories about knitters and those for whom they knit and love. The sequel to this book, The Knitting Guild of All Saints, has just been released! Available in paperback and on Kindle, included in Kindle Unlimited.