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I was handed the box containing the shrouds, and I spent most of the time ripping out the machine stitches every few inches.By Jewish law, the shrouds are supposed to be sewn by hand so that they can more easily disintegrate, and I was trying to remedy this discrepancy by loosening the seams. I held the cloth and felt the power of tradition -- the chain of generations who had been laid to rest in shrouds exactly like these.I thought of my hands that were now carefully working with the cloth, how these hands are part of the clothing of my soul.

I wanted to turn around and run, but I focused on the faces of the three women who had come with me.In my attentiveness to every action of the taharah, I submit myself to an Intelligence infinitely greater than my own.I always feel tremendously comforted by the nearness of the two women who work with me.The garments were spanking clean, ironed, and folded.My mind filled with associations of sewing my own clothes and ripping stitches.