The church I attended as a child (and where my family and my sister’s family still attend) participates in an interfaith national (maybe international?) program called Prayers and Squares. The general concept is that a quilt is made for someone in need of prayers for any reason. The quilt has a series of threads attached and each member of the church community touches the quilt – tying a knot in one of those threads – while offering up a prayer for the recipient. The idea was started in a United Methodist Church in California when the quilting group there had a member with a two-year-old grandson in grave condition following heart surgery. They quickly put a brightly colored quilt together for his hospital bed, and since there was no time to quilt it, the members hastily tied brightly colored threads to hold the layers together, declaring that the ties that held the quilt together must be the representation of so many prayers for him uttered by those quilters that day.
This quilt is for my niece, and her name is on it (although I covered it in this photo). A few special people made this quilt happen, but many others touched it for just a moment, offering up prayers of healing and patience and strength to E and her family – our family.
Hearing that community prayer lifted up for her was very hard for me – I still feel a crushing sense of sadness and helplessness whenever I think of her. I was so very grateful for that moment, for her, but the words are just so hard to hear. Why is that? I can think them in my mind, but when I hear them spoken or when I write them out the tears just flow from the very center of me and they don’t stop. I put the quilt away for seven days, in the closet, out of sight – it was too, too much, with the stories from Boston and E’s night in the hospital and all the pain and stress of that week. Sunday came around again, and the house was quiet and still. I pulled it out to look it over and laid it across my lap. My mother told me that usually the quilt makers take the quilt down after the service and double check the knots to make sure they are secure, and they trim the threads to an even length before wrapping it up to give to the recipient. Since we left to drive home soon after the service I knew that I needed to do that last step. I spread the quilt out over the bed and felt each knot with my fingers, and trimmed them to length with a pair of my grandmother’s scissors. If you can double knot a thread, you can double-pray a knot as well. It can’t hurt, can it? I wrapped it up and put it in the mail.