Psalm 147:3 “He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds.”
Jonah 3:5 “Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them.”
In August of 2015, my life took a crashing turn. My younger son, Kyle, and I came to a place in our life where a healthy relationship was no longer possible, and we stopped all communication. To say that I was brokenhearted would be the understatement of the century. Not only did Kyle end all communication with me, he walked away from his son Brady and daughter Mia as well. Please don’t judge him…just keep reading.
I was serving as a chaplain at the time and the church that I was a member of had a prayer shawl ministry. I would collect the beautifully woven shawls every couple of months and deliver them to the hospital as part of our chaplain’s ministry. One of the shawls happened to catch my eye and that “nudge” encouraged me to take it home to my grandson Brady. I explained to Brady that the shawl would bring him comfort and that we would pray while it was wrapped around him. Our prayer would be, “God…please help daddy get his act together.” As I recall I didn’t use the word “act” and Brady giggled. So, I left the shawl on Brady’s bed and went about my life…bereft and doing a whole lot of yelling at God. I’m not sure if Brady ever prayed that prayer again…until this week.
So, the prayer shawl moved with me. For some reason I didn’t leave it with Brady when I left Connecticut. Another nudge maybe? I yelled at God, packed it up and took it to the Adirondacks. When I unpacked it I yelled at God some more. When I left the Adirondacks, I packed it up and took it with me to my sister's, where I unpacked it and yelled at God a whole lot more. 6 months later I packed it up…again…and along to Montana came the prayer shawl. When I unpacked it here in Red Lodge, I stuffed it on a shelf in my closet, this time just shaking my head and walking away. Every now and then I’d see it and…yes…I’d yell at God again. I vaguely remember stuffing it into a bag of clothes that I was going to donate to the Senior Center when I did what every other American was doing this spring…my pandemic closet clean-out. I didn’t yell at God, I just shook my head, cried a river of tears, and tied up the bag.
On August 24, 2020, almost 5 years to the day, I got a phone call…from Kyle.
It went something like this, “Mom, I’m sorry. I’ve really screwed up. I’m in big trouble…and I need you.” The next month passed by in a blur of tears, phone calls and emails. And then on Wednesday of last week I finally took a minute (another nudge?) and tossed those 4 bags of clothes that I’d been pandemically cleaning out of my closets since March into my truck. When I got out of my truck to deliver the bags, one of the bags popped open…and there was that prayer shawl. My first thought was, “There’s that prayer shawl again. That thing just keeps showing up like a …. like a… Oh my Lord. IT WORKED!!” I grabbed that prayer shawl out of the bag, wrapped it around my shoulders, and brought it back home. I didn’t let go of that shawl for a full 24 hours. Yep…I even slept with it. To say that my prayers of yelling at God had changed to prayers of gratitude and repentance for the last 5 years would be the second understatement of the century. That payer shawl had become my sackcloth.
On Thursday I was, in typical Pam fashion, hustling and bustling at the church, completely distracted by doing too many things at once. As I walked by our bulletin board the “nudge” got me to stop for just a second and read a note that was pinned up there. It was a thank you note to our prayer shawl ministry, thanking us for the beautiful prayer shawl that they had received, letting us know how much it meant to them. I’m not sure when they had received their prayer shawl and I know that even if it was 5 years ago, it had done its work. We had done OUR work. Our “Love in Action” is the work of the hands that knit those shawls in prayer. God’s “Love in Action” is bringing peace and comfort to the ones who need it.
I may have originally brought this prayer shawl home for Brady… and now I see… I’m actually the one who needed it.
Red Lodge Community Church - A place where Spirit and so much more happens!
308 S. Broadway
Red Lodge, Montana