One day, while having my big box of kosher salt blessed by Fr. Joshua, I happened to notice the horrifying condition of his travel stole. "What the hey is that ratty thing??!!" was blurted out most inappropriately. It was one of those satin ribbon things that are the standard travel stole available out there. Short, wrinkled, badly fraying along the edges. Really, really sad.
If you think about it, the events that these humble stoles bear witness to are really some of the most intense moments of people’s lives – grave sites, hospital emergency rooms, accidents, hospice bedsides, airport confessions, home bound communions, prisons...
I lay awake that night staring at the ceiling, distressed thoughts running through my mind. I tried to put myself in a position where I would encounter said travel stole. What if I was on my death bed after living a life of debauchery. What if Fr. Joshua, as he is known to do, showed up just in the nick of time to administer last rites? Could I make a good confession while confronted with that messy thing? Could I? Was a bad stole capable of confounding a conversion? Horrors!
So then the question became, how do we make a better stole? It needs to be thin because the priest folds it up and carries it in his pocket with that small green prayer book. It needs to be beautiful, and dignified, and longer, and stronger, and definitely not embarrassing. We fiddled with a couple of designs that we hated.
Then SJ found us a source for delicious vintage Petersham Grossgrain ribbons in plum purple and vanilla. We used our antique Cornely chain stitch machine to lay down a golden embroidered border, added fringe and goldwork spangles to the crosses and voila! – a travel stole worthy of the task.