Thanks to Rita Dufour, a new parish activity is underway: "Knitting for Peace." Ever since Rita became a member of the Parish Council she has been talking about getting parish knitters together to work towards a common goal; in the midst of intense heat and humidity, parishioners gathered at 1:00 today in the air-conditioned classrooms at Old Saint Joe's and began their first knitting project: prayer shawls. Rita brought along a sample of what the final outcome might look like -- beautiful indeed, she told the group that these shawls will be made for some of our elderly parishioners or for parishioners who are ill. These garments will be given to those who would like to throw something warm and snugly around them in the midst of their illness [and cooler weather!], knowing that our OSJ parishioners would be praying for their well being as the knitters of goodwill engage in the every-other-Sunday afternoon knitting session. Rita informs me that this will be our summertime project -- once October comes around, there will be a different project: baby blankets to be given out to the newest members of our congregation at the time of their baptism. A pretty cool -- a pretty warm -- idea, indeed!
After my post-10AM Mass nap, I decided to head down to the classrooms to see what was up. Normally on Sunday afternoons I am watching some sort of sports activity on TV. Not much of a Wimbledon guy, and fearing that Country-Western music might accompany any sort of Nascar experience (of which I am totally unfamiliar), I wondered if I should wheel in a TV or bring music to help to entertain our knitters. Further, I wondered if I should bring a case of Miller Lite to share with the group. Thankfully I did none of the above -- those are things that guys do when they are about to watch a football game together; "Knitting for Peace" sported a different sort of environment!
Upon gathering there late, I was amazed at how many women showed up. I was also glad to see the presence of one man who came to accompany his wife -- not Rosie Greer, just in case you were wondering. Because the women were engaged in knitting "for peace" I wondered if prayers -- perhaps the reciting of the rosary -- would accompany the action. No, not really, I found out. Rita mentioned that the women started with such gusto that the prayer they had hoped to recite to get the women going was forgotten -- they just all started to jump in without any prodding from anyone. In the future a brief opening prayer will begin each session as we imagine who might benefit from such devoted work and talent.
Well as I said, I arrived on the scene a half hour late. I was startled to discover how much work had already been completed by so many of the women -- even the beginners! In fact, they had chores for me as well. At the right, you see a picture taken of me earlier today in an attempt to get my "prayer shawl" going. At first it was difficult for me to focus because my hair kept getting in my eyes. But once you get the moves down, it's pretty easy. Many of my inmates at GBCI are involved in this sort of ministry, I was reminded by Mary Schall; so when I complete my project, they will be amazed at how well I've mastered the art of "Knitting for Peace," and how peaceful I have become in the process!
In fact, the women mentioned that I was one of the fastest beginners they've ever encountered! Well, as the hours passed, I couldn't believe how easy this had become. Sure, I was drawn away from my work due to the women asking me for "pointers," pardon the knitting pun! By the time the session had come to an end, my shawl turned into a pretty snazzy garment (<-- check left). Even though this was meant to be a peaceable moment -- especially after just hearing my homily about "Giving peace a chance," it appeared as though a few of the women were glancing at my finished project with some envious eyes! They called it beginner's luck -- again, I just see it as being a really, really fast learner. I'll try to restrain my talents when it comes to the baptismal blankets!
Friends, please check out our weekly parish bulletin for more information on "Knitting for Peace." Perhaps you might want to join these very spirited women in a creative and fun way to meet new friends in the parish. While it was certainly different from watching a football game with the guys, I was delightfully surprised at how much fun the afternoon was. Nevertheless, I suspect if you ask Irv or any of the women who gathered at 1:00 today, they might have a slightly different perspective on what happened in the church basement earlier today. They will no doubt down-play my successes to suggest that I might not have been quite as successful as I write here. Look at the bright side, in two weeks, you can find out for yourself! Until then, "Thanks Rita!" And thanks to all who took part in the afternoon. To those who were knitting today, and for those who will receive one of these shawls in early fall, your creative work was evidence that, "God's flock is in your midst; give it a shepherd's care!"
Father James Baraniak, O. Praem.