Palettes of Prayer

Creative pursuits of all types allow us to express thoughts and feelings that can sometimes be difficult to put into words. Color, form, texture or sound can take us to a place beyond language as we continually seek transcendent experiences that elevate, challenge and inspire.

Many Sisters of the Precious Blood make art and crafts, and while the forms of their creations vary widely — carving, painting, quilting, singing and many more — they share in common a means of communion with others, and a way to reflect the beauty of God.

I first learned to make a basket when I was living on the Tohono O’odham reservation for a month in the early 1990s while helping a Sister nurse move off the reservation after retiring. The women there were very welcoming and eager to share their art form with me. I learned from them that the first basket a woman makes needs to be given away, so I gave it to one of our Sisters who was celebrating her Jubilee.

I then learned to make different types of baskets when I was on sabbatical at Springbank Retreat Center in South Carolina in 2013. They are baskets designed by the women there and sold in the markets in South Carolina and are the kinds that I make now.

I have always enjoyed making things by hand, like knitting and crocheting, and so making baskets is just another one of my pastimes. I can make a basket in just a couple of days and it’s fun to see it take shape. Each one turns out a little different, even if I’m following a pattern.

Unless it is just for our house here, each basket is made with a special person in mind and I give it to them for a special event like a Jubilee, a Christmas present, etc. The ones I’m making now are for graduation gifts for the young women here in Casa Sofía in Guatemala.

I also make baskets for our house. The round ones are used to hold tortillas and are used here every day. The others are meant to be hung on the wall and can be used for anything. Usually people put real or artificial flowers in them, but we use one in the kitchen to hold paper towels.

I also occasionally make afghans. The experience of making a basket or an afghan is always a prayerful time or like a meditation. They are made with the individual in mind who will receive it, and I put lots of love into each item I make. Making a hairpin lace afghan is especially a time of meditation because of repeating the same stitch over and over again. It’s a time to do centering prayer and reflection.

— Story and photos by Sister Joyce Kahle

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