Looking back. . . Looking forward. . .


“A bee comforted me very much this morning. . .   He was hovering among some blackberry sprays, just touching the flowers here and there in a very tentative way, yet all unconsciously, life-life-life was left behind at every touch, as the miracle-working pollen grains were transferred to the place where they could set the unseen spring working.  We have only to see to it that we are surcharged, like the bees, with potential life.  It is God and His eternity that will do the work.  Yet He needs His wandering desultory bees.”     9 July 1907

Two years ago, this month, I began the weekly posts that reflected on the watercolors and writings of Lilias Trotter.  It has been a wonderful discipline to dwell in her spiritual sensibility and to reflect – and share – my responses.  The duty of a biographer is to report as objectivity and truthfully as possible. . .  to combine colors and shades toward the end of “painting a portrait” that, in some small way, does justice to its subject.  Reflections, in contrast, are subjective.  Thus the pure joy for me – at last! – of luxuriating in the words and images and thoughts culled from 40 years of Lilias’s Journals and Diaries.

My original intent was to write weekly posts for two years.  I have come to the end of that arbitrary time frame.   Yet I find there is still more to share and more to say.  So. . .  my newly-revised plan is to pace down from weekly to monthly posts.  And, from time to time, I will be informing you about new developments with the Trotter documentary and other Lilias-related projects.

On my first blog, July 12, 2012, I posted my favorite Lilias painting and parable:  “The Desultory Bee.”  I can relate, then and now, to the “desultory” activities that comprise much of my time.  And I can wonder, like Lilias, how anything can be accomplished with countless interruptions and endless diversions.  I take great comfort in her words within which is also a challenge.  I come full circle and return to that “desultory bee” and leave these words for you – and myself – for the sometimes unsettling summer days without the predictable structure or a work or school schedule:

We have only to see to it that we are surcharged, like the bees, with potential life.

 It is God and His Eternity  that will do the work.  

Yet He needs His desultory wandering bees.  

Painting:  9 July 1907

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7 Responses to Looking back. . . Looking forward. . .

  1. This is wonderful! So grateful to find you through the sweetest ever of writerly friends!

  2. Brenda Clifton says:

    This picture is so lovely!! Thank you for sharing!

  3. Christine Maddux says:

    Dear Miriam — Happy 2nd Anniversary! Congratulations, and thank you for your beautiful, thoughtful and inspiring work in conjunction with Lilias’. It has been a blessing to me, and many times is the “word” I need for a particular moment — such as today.

    You wrote how you marked the beginning of your posts exactly two years ago, and began with an ordered intention of continuing them weekly for two years. I, on the other hand, sort of backed into mine, without marking the beginning nor estimating the end. Many times it seems a formless, fruitless, but time-consuming effort.

    Today I am working on my post for Sunday, based on the Parable of the Four Soils. As I contemplate the hit-and-miss-ness of those seeds that fell on “good soil,” I am reminded to keep sowing seeds without trying to measure fruit — that is God’s work, not mine. Then, your post framed the idea in Lilias’ lovely light — God’s purpose, living through a mere bee.

    Your work and Jesus’ parable have buoyed my spirits, realigned my perspective, and refreshed me for work that may yield fruit, though I do not see it; but neither does the bee!

    I am glad you are going to continue these posts, giving yourself permission to slow the pace. I look forward to hearing what you still have to share and say, and to updates on the film.

    Another desultory, wandering bee, Christine

  4. Laura Bouffiou Jacobson says:

    Lilias’ legacy through your hands has changed my life. How I thank our God for both of you!

  5. Bobb Biehl says:


    Thank you friend for the hours of unseen time and energy you have invested over the past two plus years helping keep both Lilias alive in memory … and us … alive spiritually!

    Your reflections have brought us almost as many “AHA” moments as I hope they are bringing you … as the focused teacher always learns far more than the distracted students.

    It brings me great pleasure to see you so skillfully … enjoying Lilias yourself at ever deeper levels … and … helping us as readers, benefit from her timeless reflections … a century later.

    What beauty there is in the incredible combination of her art and words … your thoughts, words … and, your motivation to reflect her and refresh us!

    It seems two years of systematic, consistent, focused communications was the ideal time frame to build a loyal group of “Lilias fans” … and, “Miriam students”. Now, your new schedule will help us keep looking for your less frequent, but just as meaningful reflections.

    One more time ………….. THANK YOU FRIEND!


  6. Kathryn Pugh says:

    Hi Miriam,

    I have read A Passion for the Impossible three times; I have given A Blossom in the Desert to at least 10 people. Lilias has inspired me so, encouraged me, and been a kind guide in following Jesus intentionally and artfully. A dear friend named her firstborn “Lilias” and this is just a sampling of the fruit of your work, reviving Lilias’ story and devotions for a new generation.

    I have loved your blog, which I just discovered in the last six months. Of course, one can’t do everything in every season, but I felt like weeping when I read you were stopping. I still long to read more of Lilias’ writings! So thank you for your hidden hard work – what a blessing you have been to me, a stranger in this life but a sister in Christ.

    Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful.

    • mhrockness says:

      Kathryn, Thank you for your words of encouragement! I can’t tell you how much it means to me to see others respond to Lilias’s life and words. And thank you for sharing ways in which others have likewise been edified by her story. I love thinking of another “Lilias” walking the face of this earth. (Two of my adult children have named pets with various forms of the name – which hardly counts – but one grandchild is “Audra Lily (which does count!) 🙂 I admit that I felt saddened coming to an end of blogging Lilias – albeit by my own arbitrary time-frame. So. . . I will continue with a monthly blog. You are not finished with me yet! Again, thank you for taking the time to write your kind thoughts. Blessings! Miriam

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