The theme for the 2018 Competition was At the heart…, and two entries were deemed equally worthy of first prize.
At the heart:
A prayer pilgrimage… with a difference.
Bowing my head over the needles and yarn,
I offered a prayer for the one who would receive it –
my first prayer shawl.
Slowly and carefully
I began the casting on, 1,2,3,4,
the needles dipping rhythmically,
in, out, in, out until, 62, 63, 64, 65!
A quick check – yes, 65.
So began the task that I had set myself.
It was to be a journey not measured in miles,
but in inches.
Nevertheless, I was embarking upon a true pilgrimage.
There would be pauses on the way and breaks for refreshment.
I had no idea how long it would take, as,
some days there would be great progress
whilst others there would be virtually none.
However, I did know that, at the heart, and
woven into every stitch,
would be prayer.
Now and again I stopped and held the work
I asked that the one who would hold it,
cuddle it, wear it, even cling to it,
might experience a special peace and calm,
and know that, at the heart,
was not only a labour of love,
but a desire that they would feel
enfolded in the love of God
Growth was slow.
64 inches a long way off.
When would I ever finish it.
Each time I took it up
more prayer was added.
As it grew I often paused
and silently blessed it.
The soothing actions kept me going.
I felt steeped in prayer and
experienced a wonderful peace.
I had a deep sense of God’s presence
as I continued building up the fabric.
Needle-in-yarn-round-and-off became my silent mantra.
Hundreds of times over and over, rhythmically repetitive,
until the day came when the rhythm changed.
As I held it up I felt like rejoicing, and I did.
I prayed with it held close to my cheek.
I let it run through my hands
as I prayed,
Bless the one who will receive it, Lord.
Envelop them with peace and tranquillity.
May they know that this
humble gift is prayerfully offered,
at the heart…
© Margaret Doughty, 2018
Download this winning entry as a pdf here
Copyright remains with the writers in each case.