Wrapping Boston Marathon Runners in Love, Hope and Peace

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Volunteers at Boston's Old South Church hope to make thousands of scarves for this year's participants

    (NECN: Greg Wayland) - On April 21, thousands are expected to join in the 118th running of the Boston Marathon to defy the spirit of fear growing out of last year's bombing, and one Boston church plans to wrap each runner in love, hope and peace.

    It is a grand and graceful Gothic landmark, and Boston's Old South Church overlooks the terminus of Boston's grand annual Marathon.

    "Old South Church in Boston is located at the finish line. Once a year, we call ourselves the Church of the Finish Line," Senior Minister Nancy Taylor says.

    And these days, in an upper room in a communal labor of love, church volunteers are quietly working hooks and needles, fashioning skanes of blue and yellow yarn into scarfs or shawls.

    "Traditionally we've been knitting prayer shawls for many years for the ministry here," Marathon Scarf Project volunteer Diane Gaucher says.

    Call them shawls or scarfs -- in blue and yellow marathon colors, they will be warm tokens of restoration.

    "I'm the mother of a runner who ran in last year's race and who didn't finish because his race ended in Kenmore Square," Marilyn Jackson Adams, a Marathon Scarf Project organizer, says.

    The runner didn't finish because terror severed that unbroken tradition of peaceful competition.

    "I was up in the church's tower overlooking the finish line, saw an explosion," Rev. Taylor recalls.

    But the city and thousands of runners will take to the course again, including Marilyn's son.

    "This is helping me to show my son how I feel about him and his courage," Marilyn says.

    He and maybe thousands more will have scarfs now.

    "I've always liked the thought of having warmth and comfort for someone in need and this scarf project just really meant kind of the same to me," scarf knitter Mary Thomas says.

    "I haven't knit in probably 50 years, so I've come back to learn how to knit so that not only can I bless the athletes with my prayers, but I can bless them with a shawl," knitter Marie Hurd says.

    If you look closely at one scarf -- an example of so-called "shadow knitting" -- you can see the crossed ribbons, symbol of Boston Strong. They'll be distributed first at the church's annual prayer service for runners, the Sunday before Marathon Monday, which this year is Easter Sunday.

    "We ask them to rise and we bless them, and we bless them to be kept from harm and to be kept safe and to finish the race and to run well," Rev. Taylor says.

    And they'll be draped with scarfs.

    More will be distributed after the race.

    "We just need to get about 30,000 more," knitter Donna Prest of Hollis, N.H. jokes. Everyone laughed, but they'd love to meet that goal.

    They've put out the call to the knitting and crocheting world.

    "To the best of our knowledge, we have people, folks knitting from 27 states," Diane says.

    People in England, France and Australia are also joining the cause.

    "This is just the beginning," Diane says.

    Just beginning at the church that wishes to be the alpha and omega this Marathon Monday.