Many contemplative, prayerful acts involve repetition of action: walking a labyrinth, reciting the Divine Office or saying the rosary. So why not knitting? As their needles flash and click, veteran knitters Jorgensen and Izard practice "contemplative knitting," which they say is just as real and fruitful a spiritual practice as any longstanding tradition of the church. Jorgensen, a Roman Catholic laywoman and spiritual director whose grandmother taught her to knit as a child, rediscovered knitting a few years ago and began to knit as part of her ministry. Her first project was a shawl for a woman in her congregation who had lost her husband in a car accident: "While I knitted, I prayed to enter her grief; I prayed light into every stitch," says Jorgensen. She chose an "Adirondack" pattern to honor the love that this woman and her husband had shared for the outdoors. Izard, a United Church of Christ pastor, shares stories from the shawl-knitting circle she organized at her church. The shawls change the lives of the knitters themselves, inviting them to engage in quiet meditation, and they also make an impact on the people who receive them, many of whom are recovering from illness or bereavement. Fans of knitting will be, shall we say, hooked: the book offers practical steps on selecting yarn and knitting simple prayer shawls, but its most enduring feature is the heartwarming stories of shawls knitted and given as artifacts of prayer.
Spirituality and Health, November 2003
"This is an awe-inspiring book about a very meaningful spiritual practice."
From the Publisher
Selected as one of the 50 "Best Spiritual Books of 2003" by Spirituality & Health magazine.
About the Author
Susan S. Izard is an ordained minister of the United Church of Christ serving as pastor of spiritual life at First Church of Christ, Congregational, in West Hartford, Connecticut. She is particularly interested in biblical reflection and contemplative practices and how we integrate God's continual revelation into our everyday lives and care for others.
Susan S. Jorgensen has been a spiritual
director in private practice since 1989 and leads retreats and workshops
across the country. She is the founding editor of Presence: The
Journal of Spiritual Directors, and the author of several books and
articles on liturgy and spirituality. She lives in Burlington,
Knitters-there are 38 million of them in the United States alone-are part of a long and quiet tradition that's both plainly practical and deeply spiritual. With needles clicking, they weave together not just garments to warm the body but also comfort and companionship to nurture the soul.
This tradition is flowering today through knitting ministries, a worldwide ecumenical movement of small groups of women who gather to pray and knit for those in need. As they create shawls for people burdened with illness and sorrow, their handiwork becomes an expression, not only of their love and concern, but also of the loving care of the God who works through them.
In this beautifully illustrated book,
the authors-a United Church of Christ minister and a Roman Catholic
laywoman-share stories of how the knitting ministry has touched lives
and hearts around the world. They offer directions for knitting the
shawls and for starting a parish or community knitting ministry. The
book also provides a selection of prayers, written from many faith
traditions, to offer along with each completed shawl.