I have something very beautiful: a prayer shawl, knitted for me by a member of the church I served as an intern and then as a director of youth ministry. The woman who knitted it is chronologically quite old but is incredibly young and sprightly. She is also wise beyond any years humans can achieve. When she heard my mother had died, she knitted this shawl for me and asked Martha to get it to me. It turned out that I visited Martha (and the church) on my way back to Egypt and was able to pick it up for myself, as well as deliver thanks and hugs in person.
This shawl is where I turn when I feel sad, lonely, lost, or pretty much any way, actually. It's strange to be an extrovert and to live in community and still to feel lonely, but sometimes I do. and I wonder what to do next, and feel lost and sometimes so excruciatingly sad that i wonder if it's still daytime out. And I doubt I've had a completely "good" (emotionally) day in a long time, but this shawl always makes me feel better. I wrap it around my shoulders and the soft yarn and wonderful stitches remind me that people pray for me everyday, and that someone cared enough to pray with every stitch of this shawl. It's like being wrapped up in the cloud of witnesses, enfolded in love and prayer. It's wonderful. Many days it is my consolation. It has absorbed many tears, heard many psalms, seen many a kleenex miss its mark on the way to the trash basket. And there are still many prayers left in it for the days to come--thank goodness. Thanks be to God for wonderful older women, for people who can knit, for people who can pray, for friends, for hugs (whether from a shawl or a person), and for the cloud of witnesses that brings hope--in this case through really soft cushy gorgeous blue-grey-purple yarn.