Friday, May 6, 2016

She waited

My mother went out to sow. And as she sowed, some seeds fell along the path. The birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground. They sprang up but the sun scorched them and they withered away. Other seeds fell among the thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them.

But she kept sowing.

My mother is the sower and we are her field, her four daughters. I am rocky and thorny and generally unhelpful with the birds.

She sowed in stories and songs, good food and clean laundry and kisses. She pulled weeds. She chased the birds away. She sowed in laughter; she sowed in tears. She sowed in prayers through the years. Every hour we were together, with every touch, she sowed lifelifelifelife.

A few seeds fell on good soil. The black dirt swallowed her seeds, and her words were buried in the ground. There, in the dark, they stayed hidden for a long, long time.

She waited. Until one day
life.


Lilias Trotter, 9 July 1907.



Father, hear us, we are praying,
Hear the words our hearts are saying,
We are praying for our children. 
Keep them from the powers of evil,
From the secret, hidden peril,
From the whirlpool that would suck them,
From the treacherous quicksand sand pluck them. 
From the worlding’s hollow gladness,
From the sting of faithless sadness,
Holy Father, save our children. 
Through life’s troubled waters steer them,
Through life’s bitter battle cheer them,
Father, Father, be Thou near them. 
Read the language of our longing,
Read the wordless pleadings thronging,
Holy Father, for our children 
And wherever they may bide,
Lead them Home at eventide.

Amy Carmichael, Toward Jerusalem (1936).
 



Monday, April 25, 2016

Sacrifice

A flower that stops short at its flowering misses its purpose. We were created for more than our own spiritual development; reproduction, not mere development, is the goal of matured beingreproduction in other lives.



This dandelion has long ago surrendered its golden petals and has reached its crowning stage of dyingthe delicate seed-globe must break up nowit gives and gives till it has nothing left... There is no sense of wrenching: it stands ready, holding up its little life, not knowing when or where or how the wind that bloweth where listeth may carry it away. It holds itself no longer for its own keeping, only as something to be given: a breath does the rest.

Lilias Trotter, Parable of the Cross 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Nothing to keep

Excerpts from Parables of the Cross by Lilias Trotter.

Look at this buttercup as it begins to learn its new lesson. The little hands of the calyx clasp tightly in the bud  round the beautiful petals; in the young flower their grasp grows more elasticloosening somewhat in the daytime, but keeping the power of contracting, able to close in again during a rainstorm, or when night comes on. But see the central flower, which has reached its maturity. The calyx hands have unclasped utterly nowthey have folded themselves back, past all power of closing again upon the petals, leaving the golden crown free to float away when God's time comes. 
Have we learned the buttercup's lesson yet? Are our hands off the very blossom of our life? Are all thingseven the treasures that He has sanctifiedheld loosely, ready to be parted with, without a struggle, when He asks for them?


Lilias Trotter, Lesson of the Buttercup



And a like independence is the characteristic of the new flood of resurrection life that comes to our souls as we learn this fresh lesson of dyinga grand independence of any earthly thing to satisfy our soul. The liberty of those who have nothing to lose because they have nothing to keep. We can do without anything while we have God.



Monday, April 18, 2016

Resting in deep waters







Lilias Trotter, a journal entry, 20 December 1927.

"I am come into deep waters" took on a new meaning this morning. It started with perplexing matters concerning the future. Then it dawned that shallow waters were a place where you can neither sink nor swim, but in deep waters it is one or the other: "waters to swim in"not to float in. Swimming is the intense, most strenuous form of motionall of you is involved in itand every inch of you is in abandonment of rest upon the water that bears you up.
"We rest in Thee, and in Thy name we go." 


Monday, April 11, 2016

How to help God


Lilias Trotter, The Miracle of Cana (13 February 1910)




The prayer of a lump of clay.

But thou art making me, I thank thee, sire.
What thou hast done and doest thou know'st well,
And I will help thee: gently in thy fire
I will lie burning; on thy potter's wheel
I will whirl patient, though my brain should reel;
Thy grace shall be enough the grief to quell,
And growing strength perfect through weakness dire.

George MacDonald, The Diary of an Old Soul (1880).


Friday, April 8, 2016

Thy clear air

Lilias Trotter, Wings of the Morning (2 May, 1914).




The pen on the desk is kept clean and filled with ink. The pencil is kept pointed. Both are ready, both are at hand; sometime one is used, sometimes the other; if only the work be done, what does it matter which does it? There can be a subtle selfishness, a kind of covetousness which is idolatry (of self) in the perpetual cry, Use me.

But there is nothing of that in the prayer, Cleanse me, O Lord, and keep me clean; make me sensitive to the approach of sin. Make me quick to hear Thy question, "Whom shall I send?" and quick to answer, "Here am I," quick also to be glad if another be preferred before me. Nor is there anything selfish in such a prayer as this,
Love through me, Love of God,
Make me like Thy clear air
That Thou dost pour Thy colours through,
As though it were not there.
Amy Carmichael, Gold by Moonlight (1935).

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Weak with him

Dear friends, our family is learning to swim in strange waters. And the learning consumes all of our effort and limbs and souls. Our people have surrounded us with their arms of love, and food.

Familiar aromas wafted softly into our kitchen, like chicken soup, along with some new flavors like the picadillo that Chanelle made last Sunday. I love how their dishes bear tiny whiffs of their souls, and what they love. Berni brought us a roast chicken, along with a bouquet of roses and daisies and lilies, and creamy popsicles.

They gave me an idea of what to put on this empty table. You are kind to still drop by. Though I am not able to serve you and fill the table with the fruit of my own hands, I thought I would share some words and paintings that have been feeding my soul.


Lilias Trotter, 1888, age 35


Lilias Trotter was a penfriend of Amy Carmichael, who was a spiritual mother to Elisabeth Elliot. Lilias Trotter was casting the light of the Gospel in the deserts of Algeria, while Amy Carmichael was clipping thousands of toenails and turning orphans into daughters in India. Through the span of years and lands and oceans, they wrote letters to each other. When Lilias Trotter laid on her death bed, she dictated letters to her friend. Perhaps these three mothers of mine are sipping tea by the crystal sea.

I will tell you the story of Lilias Trotter little by little. She was an artist. She painted with words and colors. I love seeing the world through her eyes.

Here are a few casual strokes she made in her journal entry, of a mother cradling her child. She painted this in the closet of her soul, for the eyes of her God. I can almost smell the sweet baby's breath, and feel the warmth of the mother's lap.





27 October, 1924

Two glad Services are ours,
Both the Master loves to bless:
First we serve with all our powers
Then with all our helplessness.
Those lines of Charles Fox have rung in my head this last fortnightand they link on with the wonderful words "weak with Him." For the world's salvation was not wrought out by the three years in which He went about doing good, but in the three hours of darkness in which He hung, stripped and nailed, in uttermost exhaustion of spirit, soul, and bodytill His heart broke.

So little wonder for us if the price of power is weakness.