PHOTOS: Houston women stitch love, prayer into shawls for those in need

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Women at a retirement community in Houston stitch prayer shawls for those in need (Amanda Cochran)

You don't hear needles clicking and clacking at The Buckingham retirement community, even as women knit colorful shawls. There's too much activity.

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About 12 women are talking, eating homemade cookies, or counting, their skeins of yarn flowing out of bags at their feet.

For the past two-and-a-half years, the seniors in this group have met two times a month to knit or crochet rectangular prayer shawls for those in need. The effort is a partnership between retirement community in the 8500 block of Woodway and the nearby Chapelwood United Methodist Church.

Through the work of these women and others, dozens of prayer shawls have been sent to people facing cancer, other serious illness or difficulty, and to those with a new baby. However, before the shawls are given away, the women pray over them.

The Chapelwood United Methodist Church describes the volunteers in this way: "The person who created your shawl prayed for you while knitting or crocheting. That person may or may not have known your name or your circumstances, but every stitch was combined with prayer specifically for you. ... Know that you are not alone."

The group also sends a card with the prayer shawls, signed by each person in the group.

The card reads, "We have prayed that God's grace be upon this shawl-- warming, comforting, enfolding and embracing. May this mantle be a safe haven, a sacred place of security and well-being, sustaining and embracing in all good times as well as difficult ones. May you be cradled in home, kept in joy, graced with peace and wrapped in love."
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