A Gathering Place

A Gathering Place

Don´t worry about anything, but pray about everything. With thankful hearts offer up your prayers and requests to God. Philippians 4:6

Don´t worry about anything, but pray about everything.  With thankful hearts offer up your prayers and requests to God.  Philippians 4:6

What do you need to feel safe in this place?  I pose this question to every group of participants who comes to the camps, courses or retreats at the Shalom Center when we create the community covenant at the beginning of the program. This time, I ask a group of women who have traveled into the mountains for the prayer shawl ministry retreat. It seems like a simple question, and yet many of the women weep as they dare to answer honestly, accepting the call to speak “the truth in love” perhaps for the first time in a group of people that they have not met before.  Stitch by stitch, we begin to knit a community where we can share tears and laughter, pain and joy, frustration and success. Here we can unravel our mistakes, seek forgiveness and reconciliation and begin to knit again. 

These women have gathered from up and down Chile, and as they knit, they share and pray.  One is from a rough neighborhood outside of Santiago, and she tells of raising her children as a single mother working as a live in maid with just enough free time on Sundays to pick her children up from her mother’s house and take them to church.  “My oldest son is a minister now,” she states proudly.  Another woman comes from the southern coast of Chile where the tsunami washed away her home along with the rest of her village.  She speaks of learning to be grateful even in the midst of her loss and how knitting has helped to calm her worries while keeping her hands and mind busy. Two young women are university students.  They are surprised when the older women listen with respect and concern as they tell about struggling to grow in their faith under the negative pressures of friends and secular higher education. Knitting prayer shawls has become a way to keep centered, develop a prayer discipline, and to give the gift of faith to others who might have otherwise rejected it.  A grandmother, daughter and granddaughter have come together to the retreat.  For them, it is a time to let go of day to day responsibilities, celebrate family, and reaffirm their support for each other.

Sacred space is the nexus of the right place at the precise moment.  The Shalom Center is a gathering place where God invites us step into these holy moments and places where our relationships are healed.  Together we have discovered that  healing can come from the simple act of wrapping a prayer shawl around the shoulders of a troubled sister, from knitting our blessings into something beautiful, or from praying and laughing together in a circle of women.    

Elena Huegel

Elena Huegel is a missionary with the Pentecostal Church of Chile (IPC).  She serves as an environmental and Christian education specialist.