The deacon stole – a labour of love

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Janice with her distinctive stole. Photo: Hollis Hiscock

by Christyn Perkons

Janice’s stole is a labour of love, worked on by many of the people who have walked with her in her faith and vocational journey. These include her family and the son of a godchild in Ireland, fellow students and professors from Trinity College, parishioners from Church of the Ascension, seafarers from the Mission to Seafarers, colleagues, friends, diocesan staff and other companions on her discernment pilgrimage.

They’ve each knit a couple of rows and infused them with love, care, prayers and good wishes.

Some of the rows have the tension and uniformity characteristic of lifelong knitters, while other rows carry the holes and bumps created by first-time knitters. A couple of rows even contain intentional holes created by the seafarers who only knew how to crochet fishing nets!

Janice’s friend, Sue Hawthorne-Bate, crocheted the Celtic knots in the shape of a cross that will fall across Janice’s heart, as well as the panels on each end of the stole.

The wool in the stole, both the oxblood and the bright red, was grown, sheared and spun on Iona (a small island off the western coast of Scotland and a centre for Gaelic monasticism for four centuries). Janice purchased the wool while on a pilgrimage to the Iona Community, an ecumenical Christian community engaged with people across the world in acting, reflecting and praying for justice, peace and the integrity of creation.

The genesis of this stole is Janice’s love of community, her yearning to engage and connect and her desire to include her pilgrimage companions symbolically in one of the signs of her ministry.

One of the knitters, a complete novice, commented she felt that the act of knitting part of Janice’s stole connected her, physically and spiritually, to all the people with whom Janice will intersect over the course of her ministry as a deacon.

What a fitting symbol this hand knit stole is of the yoke of Christ, of the commitment to faithful service and compassionate love of the people of God!