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Monday, January 5, 2015

Why Women Make Blankets...and Prayer of the Hands

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?

Some twenty years ago, I spent the many hours of a five day autism conference with a crochet hook and silky yarn in my hands.  A substantial portion of an afghan materialized as I took in what was then cutting edge training on serving the needs of children on the Autism spectrum. I did this sitting next to my boss.

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.

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  1. Yes, I feel the same way!!! As I knit or sew, all my prayers and tears are interwoven into my projects.

  2. I totally get it!! Thanks for sharing and helping me understand myself a little better :-)

  3. I'm a woman who occasionally crochets, sews, etc., but NOT while I'm also doing something else. And I always did so only when what I wanted wasn't available for purchase instead. Until now, I was one of those people who didn't understand women who make instead of buy blankets to donate to hospitals and hospices, who knit socks, who expend "more effort than it's worth" on common items. I get it now! Thank you!

  4. What a beautiful sentiment about handiwork and prayer! Thank you for sharing this on the Art of Home-Making Mondays.

  5. THIS.

    I have made blankets for Project Linus, afghans for a group taking them to Afghanistan, and prayer shawls for church; but I never understood the magnitude of what I was doing until my son was born at 29,5 weeks and I was gifted a prayer shawl and my son received several blankets. It was humbling to say the least.

  6. Beautiful post. Someone just commented on an old blog of mine that had a quilt spread out behind me. All of our blankets/quilts have been made by my grandma and eventually my grandpa when he became to sick to work outdoors. He usually cuts the material and she sews the blocks and then puts it on the quilting machine. They aren't color coordinated or anything fancy, but the love in them is definitely felt. She was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's so I'm not sure how many more quilts we'll be getting whcih makes the others all the more special now.


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