A few book club details before we jump into chapters 6-10 in A Passion for the Impossible: The Life of Lilias Trotter by
If you read HYS last weekend, you saw the article Craig Thompson wrote about Lilias. In his post he shared that Miriam has a blog about Lilias Trotter. This is where I wish we were in person, because I’d be gesturing more than normal. A blog!! About Lilias!! We haven’t seen that in Book Club. I just discovered it existed a little over an hour ago, so the truth is, I haven’t had time to poke around much. But I like this post: Resources: By and About Lilias Trotter. I’ve also left a comment asking Miriam to contact me and hope she’ll be able to visit us later in the month.
Onto today’s section. This part of the book satisfied me because Lilias was a real person who, like us, had to consider:
Her gifting and where to live her life. She was able to incorporate her art in both worlds (England and Algeria). I loved the sketch of the three women from the back! Even in England, choice was involved when it came to how much to focus on her artistic talents and how much to serve. I have a feeling, no matter which choice she felt was the one God had for her, others would question it. Reminding me, not to poll too many. Seek wise counsel, yes. Pray, clearly. Listen, goes without saying. But don’t poll people on their opinions of the decision.
Her family, especially her sister Jacqueline. It touched me that yearly Lilias planned to spend six months in England helping care for her sister and six months in Algeria. Her willingness to be flexible and look for ways to have a bit of both, made me think of friends—particularly single friends—who have aging parents. They are exploring ways to be of service to their families and parents, while not having to leave the field completely. Sometimes it is impossible to navigate both worlds, but is it more possible than we think?
Her physical health and here I want to separate out her “weak” health (out of her control) and the unhealthy pattern of pushing to the point of collapsing. We talk about the pedestal too often we are put on as cross-cultural workers and it is stories like this, where Lilias pushed, and pushed, and pushed that perpetuation the myth of “giving your all.” I don’t think any of us are opposed to hoeing our row, the problem is when we compare “our row” to others and feel we come up short.
Her willingness to put in her time when it came to housing. Lilias and her teammates were willing to spend years showing up so that when a chance came for them to move into the Muslim area, they were able to walk through the open door. We read in a few pages what was slowly (at times boringly) lived out day after day, week after week, year after year. It truly would be a bit boring to read the tedious details of how long it took to do laundry, prepare food, what they talked about, when they were annoyed, what made them happy. The only down side of compressing the daily-ness of life into the constraints of a book, is that it can create the sense that Lilias’ (or any biography) life was more interesting than our own.
Her spiritual priorities of disciplined prayer and spending consistent time in the word. I loved that she wandered out of town to spend time with Jesus. Her drawing of the sand lily on the first part of Part Two made me think of the Velvet Ash. The sand lily “grows in arid sand, drawing life from stored energy in the bulb underground” and the Velvet Ash thrives in the desert.
A few ways she wasn’t like me (us?)—I laughed at what a novelty it was to have to dress herself and not be served tea in bed. And then I remember how unbelievably proud I was to learn you could . . . wait for it . . . make tortillas!! Who knew. Apparently millions of people don’t buy them at the grocery store. Not that impressive really. Lilias and her friends were also able to go without an organization or more structured support system because they were “supported though independent means.” In other words, they were rich and could live off of the money they had.
As we near the time to move the conversation to the comments, I have three parting questions and request.
Reading about The Cambridge Seven I wondered how we can share what God is doing, so as to empower people that they, too, could do more than they might have realized. But, and here is the kicker, without elevating them?
How is Lilias Trotter’s story a mirror for you to see your own life from a different angle? What stood out to you in the section?
If I am able to connect with Miriam and invite her to Book Club, what would you like to ask her?
The request: as we will have a longer time to read this next section, will you take a picture of yourself reading it (or get someone to take it for you?) and next time let’s share pictures of ourselves in the comments. Yesterday I was sitting outside reading when a grasshopper jumped on my page and I thought it would be fun to see each of us a bit in our element. Enjoy the extended reading time :).
P.S. Here is the reading plan for A Passion for the Impossible: The Life of Lilias Trotter by
July 5: Forward – Chapter 5
July 12: Chapters 6- 10 (or chapters 6-8 in Part 1 and chapters 1-2 in Part 2)
July 19: Sabbath (reading a larger section)
July 26: Chapters 11-21
August 2: 22-26 (the end)
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