I usually have work in my hands when I'm listening to speakers. I suspect that at least a few co-attendees think this is inappropriate. Busying one's hands can free up the mind to listen, though, and to pray. The repetitive rhythm of handwork has always been a conduit of prayer and of connection for me. You see, rosaries and prayer ropes are wonderful, but crochet works too! I always listen more attentively, and pray more deeply, when my hands are not calling me for something to do. Much better to pour one's prayer into a physical product of the experience. The prayer becomes the work, and the work becomes the prayer; you see?
He did not question the fact that I had a crochet hook, rather than a note taking pen, in my hand. He knew me. His question was different than that. "Why would you spend hours upon hours making a blanket, when I can walk into a store and buy one in minutes?" "Because there'd be no love in it," I replied. I could have added, "or prayer," but didn't; that would have been beyond him. He looked at me incredulously, or perhaps he was just confused. At any rate, he didn't get it. I distinctly remember him shaking his head. There was probably an eye roll in there too.
Women who make things with their hands understand though. It's the reason they send handmade blankets to children's hospitals and to orphanages and to friends who have recently lost loved ones. It's the reason that wrapped and ribbon-clad boxes at baby showers are filled with the things.
For women of faith, the work of our hands is full of intention born of the heart. It is physical prayer and permeated by love. I'm quite certain that the sensation of love can be tangibly perceived. It feels like dupioni silk and wool and quilting cotton. It feels like Chantilly lace, too. It's in there, amongst the fibers, saturating physical objects spun with it. It's how we bundle those we love in our care and protection and prayer. It's how we wrap people in our arms, and surround them with a comforting bulwark of love, when we cannot be there in person.
And that's why women make blankets.
“He should first show them in deeds rather than words all that is good and holy.”
~Bendict of Nursia, The Rule of Saint Benedict
Pax Christi dear ones, May your loved ones be always ensconced in a rampart of prayer, and may you always feel bundled in love.