The Journey of the Prayer Shawl
By Carol Parker
I want to share with UCUMC family just how important the giving of a Prayer Shawl is to a person in need.
I lost a lovely friend and coworker, whose name is Loretta, to her battle with cancer on May 13, 2017.
I first learned that Loretta was a United Methodist Church member in Asheboro, NC, when I
attended her funeral. The funeral service was extremely moving to me. As I listened to the words of her minister, a peaceful feeling came over me, as it was then that I realized when you have a very strong faith as Loretta did, you embrace death as an opportunity to have a glorious life in Heaven with your Redeemer. Until I heard her minister’s words, I had no idea that Loretta realized the end of her life was drawing near, and she felt the need to lessen her family’s burden by making all the arrangements with her minister beforehand, so that her wishes would be carried out when she drew her last breath. Loretta was indeed ready to meet her eternal Father, and she was NOT afraid to die!
Background – Here is how I came to seek out and receive a prayer shawl for Loretta.
I feel I was inspired by God to reach out to Loretta and to do whatever I could to bring comfort and peace to her as she fought the courageous fight with cancer.
About 4-6 weeks before I learned that Loretta could no longer take care of herself, and the timehad come for her to move into a Hospice facility in Asheboro, NC, I felt I was being moved to ask someone in the Prayer Shawl Ministry if I could obtain a shawl for my friend who was not doing well with fighting her disease. She had become extremely weak, tired and could no longer get around by herself without assistance.
I felt strongly that the prayer shawl would bring peace, comfort and hope to Loretta during this most critical time in her life.
As I was driving to church that Sunday morning, I prayed that my Cornerstone friend, Sharon Weynand, who is one of the members of the UCUMC Prayer Shawl group, would be around that morning to help me with my quest.
I couldn’t believe my eyes as I pulled into a parking space, as Sharon was standing right outside the entrance to church waiting for her husband Dave to pick her up.
I approached her and told her about my friend and how I felt a prayer shawl would surely comfort her. Sharon immediately took me to the Prayer Shawl closet. I signed the book to acknowledge receiving a shawl and even got to choose the shawl color that spoke to me for my dear friend Loretta. I picked out a blue and black shawl and couldn’t wait to mail it to Loretta’s home in Asheboro, as a surprise gift. I never called or sent her a text to let her know it was coming in the mail. Again, I had no idea how weak Loretta had become and how her disease was spreading very rapidly.
My husband, Bill, mailed the shawl the next day for me. I waited patiently hoping to hear from Loretta in a week or two. I was hoping she would tell me that the shawl was comforting to her. Weeks went by and no word came from Loretta. All I could think was that the package was still laying on her front porch unopened, as she was too weak to go outside for the mail.
On the morning of her death my husband Bill and I headed to Asheboro to visit her at the Hospice facility. Sadly, we received word before we got on the road that Loretta had passed away early that morning. I guess it was not meant to be that I see her before she died.
As the funeral service came to an end on May 13 in this very tiny United Methodist Church in Asheboro, I knew that I had to ask her family if she ever received the prayer shawl. As I gave my condolences to her granddaughter, I asked about the shawl. When I asked Emerald, she told me that her grandmother loved the prayer shawl and would not take it off. She had it on every day and that included the morning she died. I cried as she told me that this precious shawl was by Loretta’s feet in the casket and would be buried with her.
At that moment, my prayers had been answered. The beautiful shawl wrapped around my friend had come at just the right time, when she needed it the most, her last few weeks on this earth. I believe the shawl represented God’s arms wrapped tightly around Loretta to give her comfort in the knowledge that her life on this earth was done, and she was now ready to join her Father in Heaven.