It was just a plain cardboard box labelled with my name and address. The name of a town in New Brunswick the only clue as to the sender.
I knew who sent it. A woman named Sharon who for the past three years had been sending an identical box because two of her children had once found their way to the emergency homeless shelter where I worked before finding their way back home several years later.
In her note that year she wrote:
“Enclosed is a box of handmade mitts and hats from two gals from New Brunswick who truly believe in the work that you and your volunteers offer the residents of Calgary. As in the past, you have supported our children as they went out west to find employment, and start a new life, that may not have been so glamorous, and ended up in your shelter.
In our appreciation, please accept these small tokens, made with huge hearts by mothers who know what it is like to have a child that has lived on the streets in Calgary. May these warm gifts from our heart help others that are in need this coming winter.
As in past years, these items are made with wool from sheep that have grazed in New Brunswick, wool spun and manufactured at Briggs & Little in New Brunswick and knitted by myself, a New Brunswicker and Marg, a Newfoundlander.
May you and your volunteers know that your work has not gone unnoticed but has encouraged many, even mothers on the east coast of Atlantic Canada.”
A plain cardboard box that held all the prayers and hopes of mothers the world over. May my child come home, safe and sound — for Christmas, Hanukkah, Ramadan. Whatever the occasion. May my child come home, safe and sound.
We never know when something we do will make a difference. We never know what that difference will be. We never know whose heart we’ll touch.
Sharon touched my heart that day and memories of her grace and kindness continue to resonate in my world today.
She reminds me that this is an amazing world. A world where on one side of the street people walk wrapped up in the warm coats of lives stitched together from one moment to the next filled with things to do, places to go, people to see. A world where, sadness and bleakness wear weary paths to the place where shelter is found in every kind of weather, just across the street.
A world where, just across the nation, mothers, like Sharon and Marg, sit together and knit away the dark hours of winter to the soothing hum of knit one, pearl one.
A world where knitting needles click and two mothers create a gift that will shelter the hands of those who have been left out in the cold.
With each knit one, pearl one, Sharon and Marg stitch together the possibility of hope arising in the hearts of those who receive their gifts — no matter the state of their lives or their position at the shelter — because each stitch has been cast with a pearl one of gratitude, a knit one of hope.
In opening the box of multi-coloured mittens, I was reminded that when we knit one in hope, pearl one in gratitude, we stitch into the tapestry of this world all the love a mother’s heart can hold. A love that, no matter the distance between us, can never be torn apart, can never come unstitched. Is never lost, no matter how lost we may feel.
May we all be blessed with pearls of hope stitching our lives into a tapestry full of the possibility to our returning home where ever that may be.