The Temple’s Shawl Ministry offers gifts of comfort, healing, and love, and sometimes we hear back from those who have received them and they share their stories with us, and allow us to share them with you. This Shawl Story comes from Jess:
I am a practising Buddhist of diverse origins: my ancestors come from Iceland, Ukraine, Romania, Poland, Switzerland, Turkey, Greece, Russia, Norway, and Moldova (among others). I grew up the great-granddaughter and great-great-granddaughter of immigrants from whom I learned about my family history. While in some cases they came to the US simply to seek a better life, many of my family came to escape persecution by the Ottoman Turks and rising Communist Party. The ones who came here were the lucky ones—when one of my great-great-grandfathers returned to Poland and Ukraine after World War II to look for his father and other relatives, not only did he learn that they had been victims of genocide, but that even the location of their graves had been obliterated, “plowed up”. Another great-grandfather lost most of his family to the Greek Genocide, and precious little survives about his family from their village in Turkey (they were Ottoman Greek). Yet another great-grandfather lost several relatives under Stalinist rule.
Despite this, my family has always embraced a positive, loving, and compassionate outlook. I was privileged to be able to know four of my great-grandparents growing up, as well as my grandparents. Most of my great-grandparents lived to be between 100-103 years old, and most of my grandparents survived well into their 90s. My last surviving grandfather passed away this January (2016). I had an especially strong connection to my Baba (passed away 2002, age 100); she sent me items that had belonged to some of my ancestors.
I had heard about the Temple of Witchcraft’s Shawl Ministry through various sources—as a knitter and crocheter myself, I am always so happy to see these skills used as a medium for transmitting healing and blessings to all those in need. I wanted to mark this passing of my last surviving grandparent with something special. I wanted to have something to wear in their memory when I lit candles to them in our local Orthodox Church. Although not Orthodox myself, I like to honour my ancestors who were in this way, as it gives me a powerful way to connect with them and honour that part of my heritage. In a way, the shawl would also serve as my way of remembering all of my ancestors and relatives who did not make it to the U.S., and for whom precious little information survives. I kept trying to make a shawl myself, but it just didn’t seem right—so many obstacles cropped up. I kept coming back to the Shawl Ministry. I was being guided in this direction, so I followed the guidance.
When the package containing the shawl arrived, with the card and candle, I cried with joy. The energy was so palpable—pure love and healing! I wrapped myself in it immediately! During my daily evening Tara practices, I lit the votive. Such warmth filled the room! I wish I could be more descriptive, but words fail! I found a card to colour to send to the ministry as a “thank you”. My recently departed grandfather had been an artist in this life, so I felt like, in a way, he was sharing his energy through my colouring the card.
I wear my shawl during the monthly Buddha days and four major Buddhist holy days, when doing puja at home or in the gompa; I will be wearing it again when my husband and I visit our local Orthodox church to light a candle for deceased family this week. Love transcends the boundaries we create, as does compassion, and the energy of loving kindness and compassion in the shawls made by the Shawl Ministry are a remarkable gift that can be shared with everyone. Just by wearing my shawl around others, I have seen their energies lift, and their mood become more positive. So wonderful!
I am glad, so glad, that I heeded that voice that encouraged me to write to the Shawl Ministry and request a shawl. Through this gift of kindness, I have been able to share healing with others, making this gift more meaningful than words can express. Thank you to the Cancer Ministry of the Temple of Witchcraft—may all your prayers and aspirations be achieved!
Have a story of the shawl ministry you would like to share with us and our community? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.