October 27, 2011

A Blossom in The Desert: Reflections of Lilias Trotter

A friend of mine handed me a pile of books saying, "I think you might enjoy these." I thumbed through the covers and noticed the many rich illustrations and smiled. She knew me. The books were lovely and I am treasuring them. With a cup of herbal tea I curled myself up in my favorite reading spot, my papasan chair next to a window that looks out over my garden. I selected A Blossom in the Desert  first because it looked like an easy read and I was in want of something beautiful and inspiring. It was no easy read, each page is rich in beautiful illustrations from Lilia's journals entreating one to stay longer and look. Her scripted thoughts about God and her daily nature walk reflections are short but deliciously meaty. Thank you Anna, you may never know how this little book has inspired me.

Lilias Trotter was a daughter of a wealthy father who raised her with all the privileges of life in England at the turn of the 18th century. It was fun to learn she was emerging as an artist in England around the same time Charlotte Mason was emerging as an educator. It was also fun to learn Lilias studied art under John Ruskin whom Charlotte quoted so often in her writings. Lilias though very gifted as an artist turned down an opportunity to study full time under Ruskin and to be made known to the world, to follow God to the coast of North Africa where she spent the next 40 years of her life among the Muslim people of Algeria A Blossom in the Desert is a book devotional writings and drawings from her sketch book while she was in among the Algerians. She had the habit of rising early in the morning and spending and hour outside in nature reading her bible and learning she says from the words in the pages and the nature around her. Her simple faith and teachable spirit is refreshing and the drawings which accompany them inspiring. It suggested to me that nature journaling may be expanded to more than scientific study but also to the listening of the heart to God. Why not draw and listen, write and paint our communion with the everlasting God. Lilias's habits have inspired me to one of my own....nature study with God.

With her pocket sketch book and her keen eye she lived the credo Ruskin outlined for modern painters: " The greatest thing a human soul ever does in this world is to see something, and tell what it saw in a plain way. Hundreds of people can talk for one who can think, but thousands can think for one who can see." -Miriam Hoffman Author of A Blossom in the Desert.
Daisies Talking

 "The daisies ave been talking again-the girls brought in a clump the other day from their saturday afternoon hours in the country. Somewhere long ago I saw that the reason they spread out their leaves flat on the ground-so flat the scythe does not touch them-is because the flowers stretch out their little hands, as it were, to keep back the blades of grass that would shut out the sunlight. They speak so of the need of deliberately holding back everything that would crowd our souls and stifle the freedom of God's light and air." page 178

The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him.
Lamentations 3:24

Miriam Huffman the author of this devotional diary writes that she was not allowed to print the devotional books until there was a biography written of Lilias Trotter. So she took it upon herself to research and write the biography which is called Passion for the Impossible. Sounds like another good read.

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