August 6, 2015
Acts 19:11-12 (MSG) God did powerful things through Paul, things quite out of the ordinary. The word got around and people started taking pieces of clothing—handkerchiefs and scarves and the like—that had touched Paul’s skin and then touching the sick with them. The touch did it—they were healed and whole.
Handkerchiefs – a symbol of God’s healing power. A simple square of cloth, plain or fancy, can be used for many things. Paul’s handkerchiefs and scarves were used as sacred tools for healing. Throughout history hankies have been used, not only for wiping sweaty brows or runny noses, but as banners, bandages, and tokens of love.
When I was a child all proper girls would carry a handkerchief where ever they went. Tucked into a pocket or waistband, it was an ever-ready tool for living. I used my hanky for many things besides wiping a runny nose. Sometimes it was the perfect fabric to fashion a doll dress and then the next day it became a fluttering flag on my bicycle handlebars or a tiny basket for gathering clover flowers to make garlands.
I still have quiet a few of those old handkerchiefs. And my mother gave me some of hers. As I unpacked them from our moving boxes last summer I marveled at these small works of art, each one different than the rest. Some were surrounded by tiny stitched hems and others with fancy crochet or tatted edging. Though some carried stains from years gone by, they were all beautiful and unique and held memories for me of times long ago. I knew then that I would find a special place for them in our new home, GraceStone Sanctuary.
And I did! I hung my “gallery” of handkerchief art as a valance above the windows on our enclosed back porch. I used all that I had and then gathered some from flea markets and on-line stores. I love watching them flutter above the open windows and they bring back those wonderful memories of my mother and me carefully folding and tucking a hanky in a pocket or purse for the day.
Those things alone are healing and uplifting and make me smile. But when a guest comes and sits with me in the hanky gallery I inevitably watch a sort of healing take place. Eyes begin to sparkle as stories of their handkerchiefs unfold. I often hear about a time of sorrow when someone offered a hankie to wipe a tear or stop a bleeding wound. I hear stories about creative uses of these simple pieces of cloth…as a strainer for drinking water or a simply fashioned hat for relief from the sun. And I am reminded again of Paul’s humble cloths by the images of water and relief.
I also think of a quote by music composer Robert Schumann. He knew the beauty of the healing hankie when he said, “Nature best teaches how to pray, and how to reverence all the gifts the Almighty has given us. She is like a vast outspread handkerchief, embroidered with God’s eternal name, on which we may dry alike our tears of sorrow and of joy; she turns weeping into ecstasy, and fills our hearts with speechless, quiet reverence and resignation.”
If you would like to know more about GraceStone Sanctuary, please visit our website at gracestonesanctuary.com