Celebrate the Voices of Women

Third Sunday in Lent

International Women’s Day

You can never tell to what untold glories
any little humble path may lead,
if you only follow far enough.

Lilias Trotter, Diary and Painting, 1899

Celebration is central to all the spiritual practices because without joy and festivity in community our spiritual lives would become dull and ritualistic. March has been designated Women’s History Month with the 2023 theme “Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories.” And the 2023 theme for International Women’s Day on March 8th is #EmbraceEquity. We celebrate women by listening well to their stories as well as taking action to offer equity at home and in the workplace.

The life stories of passionate and fearless women living out a call of God have always captured my imagination. In my early career as a student minister I was mentored by a dear friend, Carolyn Teague, whose devotion to Christ and women in ministry were invaluable life-long lessons. She took me on one of her speaking tours to Boston and introduced me to Elisabeth Elliot, missionary to Ecuador, and widow of Jim Elliot who was killed by the Auca Indians, many of whom later came to know the Christ they shared. Elisabeth’s life, as well as Carolyn’s life of adventurous obedience have shaped my own story. Lilias Trotter, another beautiful life influencer, has been speaking truth and imagination into my soul, from her personal diaries, her life as a missionary, and the expression of her faith through her art.

Elisabeth Elliot, (1926-2015) writes about Lilias Trotter (1853-1928) in her book “A Path through Suffering:” As the first missionary in Algiers, Lilias Trotter was often staggered by the immensity of the task of carrying the gospel across those desert wastes to the countless little villages hidden among the sandhills. After seven years she went to England, so exhausted she felt that she needed “weeks for prayer, but at present…I am just vegetating, and writing up this journal, and drawing the pictures from (my notebooks.)

Lilias Trotter’s biographer, Miriam Rockness writes: She begins one day (on her sabbatical in Switzerland ) with a walk along a mountain pathway. The path itself is stony and rugged, the guiding fence is in disrepair. The excursion promises no particular enticements but fresh air and a distant mountain view. But then, advance a few yards, and she is greeted by an unexpected burst of beauty. On that day in August 1899 she writes in her journal: “Today’s first lesson was in these little mountain paths. I followed mine only a few yards further this morning, and such an outburst of beauty came. You can never tell to what untold glories any little humble path may lead, if you only follow far enough.”

My Help Comes from the Lord
A Song of Ascents

 I lift up my eyes to the hills.
    From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved;
    he who keeps you will not slumber.
 he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
    your going out and your coming in
    from this time forth and forevermore.

Psalm 121 (ESV)

What a legacy Lilias left us by taking her sabbatical to reflect, write, and paint her life message of “following far enough on her humble path to live and share untold glories of God.” She lifted up her eyes to the hills and saw the Lord God the creator of heaven and earth in the desert of North Africa, the flowers of England, the hills of Switzerland and in the faces of women and children she loved and served.

REFLECT. Take time to read Psalm 121 reflectively and listen to the question in your own heart and mind: “Where does my help come from?” Look at Lilias Trotter’s Mountain Path water color again. Look at the scene as a whole and then notice where your eyes stop. What do you see? As you follow the path of your spiritual journey, are you willing to keep walking on in faith, to follow far enough to see the Beauty and Glory of the Lord? Listen well to these women of history.

This month go get a coffee with a strong passionate woman and listen to her story.

RESOURCES. How thankful I am that these women’s life stories and work have been preserved for us.

One Comment Add yours

  1. John Gray AMBAYO says:

    Great inspirational message. My mother (RIP) has been one of the greatest women in my life. Am always reminded of how she single handedly cared for us when we were forced into exile in Mondikolo in the present South Sudan. In 1979 while running from armed attack in Moyo (Uganda), I recall in the evening I reached a point I couldn’t move further. My mother who was carrying my follower on her back kept dragging and encouraging me to move. The following day my legs were swollen but mum using warm water massaged. For two years she took care of us until we reunited with our dad. Mum loved me so much that she sacrificed for my Education and always taught us to pray and trust the Lord. I dedicate the women’s day to my mum who despite departing this world has been a role model and icon in my life.


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