Holy week is a time when I return to my deep desire to honor the women disciples; a humble group of women who donated their time, service, compassion and means to a way of be-ing that took root in their hearts and minds. Most people don’t really think of this community of women as a significant piece of the Easter story. Like so many women, they gave what they had and accepted community in return for it and held it in their hearts and hands where it lingers as a blessing for all of us, still.
I want to acknowledge a lasting emblem of one such woman’s love and spirit in my local community – a needlework shop owner who initiated a knitter’s circle after receiving a prayer shawl. The comfort, joy and love the shawl brought to her inspired her to lend her own talents to co-creating prayer shawls with others in her community. And so she drew others to work with her in starting a prayer shawl ministry and when she became ill, they began knitting at her home. They became witnesses of her awesome dignity in facing her illness. And when she succumbed – resting under her prayer shawl – the women in her small circle were inspired to continue gathering and knitting in honor of all they had shared through and with her.
In listening to the knitters in this group it is abundantly clear that these knitting fingers are deftly sowing powerful seeds of love. Seeds nurtured from the inspiration of their founder’s spirit, and grown by sharing in each other’s joys, trials, tribulations, celebrations and losses. Each stitch is woven through with the laughter and tears of these steadfast companions. They bonded together co-creating a spiritual fabric that has spread its threads as seed in their community, and far beyond. Their hands have worked together to untie the spirit of the strong woman and to make light work of creating spiritual shawls that others might wrap around themselves to mind them on their way. These women’s hands hold love as a heartbeat of living spirit and caring community.
This women’s prayer circle plants itself in a needy world. This spirit so alive in this community of women was also present on the road to Calvary when Veronica compassionately offered a suffering stranger water and wiped his face. This circle harkens back to a circle of women disciples who stood firmly at the foot of a cross, banded together in love, through love and with love – the heartbeat of its presence.
Let us give thanks to G*d for the gift of all of these women – for hands – here and there- made in the image of G*d who formed them as the heart’s instruments. May they open all of our minds and hearts with gratitude for their presence then and now…. and encourage us to use our hands and hearts to serve and bless the world.