With the release of Miriam Rockness’s new devotional edition of Images of Faith: Reflections Inspired by Lilias Trotter (Volumes 1 & 2), we’ve invited Miriam to address the uniqueness of this publication. We launch this interview with the cover painting and quote of the “desultory bee” – a motif which continues throughout the book:
“A bee comforted me very much this morning concerning the desultoriness that troubles me in our work. . . 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.” (Diary 9 July 1907)
Congratulations on the publication of the new edition of Images of Faith! Can you explain how this edition is distinct from the previous Image book?
Yes! It is distinct in several significant ways. First, this revised devotional edition of Images of Faith: Reflections Inspired by Lilias Trotter, contains the complete body of work: both Volumes 1 & 2. It has a devotional format, bringing together on a single page Lilias’ quotes and paintings which serve as a springboard for each related and, I believe, relevant reflection. It is reader friendly in its size and layout. Its reasonable pricing makes it a perfect option for gifting as well as owning.
Why is this particular edition so important to you?
Good question. At start, Images of Faith is by far my most personal Lilias offering. The biography (A Passion for the Impossible) and the compilation of her art and writing (A Blossom in the Desert) were, by intent, objective: my determined effort to allow Lilias to speak for herself. In contrast, Images of Faith is an intensely personal, subjective record of how Lilias has spoken to me. Over the past three decades in which I have read, researched and studied her life and works, she has been instructing me in mind and spirit. It would not be an overstatement to say that in this book I share my very soul and how it has been informed by Lilias.
This particular devotional edition has surpassed all my hopes. The format, compact and color-filled, invites the reader into Lilias’ heart through her timeless quotes and exquisite watercolors that launch each reflection. The beauty of the cover and layout are a tribute to Lilias’ beauty-loving spirit. It welcomes penciled notes and under-linings from the reader.
You mention the cover of Images of Faith. Would you like to comment on that choice?
The cover features one of my favorite Trotter watercolors: the “desultory bee” hovering over a spray of blackberry blossoms. I remember when I first “discovered” it – buried within her page-a-day diaries she kept from 1899 until her death in 1928. It was October, 1995, and I was spending the month at the Arab World Ministry headquarters in Loughborough, with the intent of going through her archives and xeroxing the same for further study. As the three cardboard boxes of archival material had been buried in storage, I had the privilege of sharing with the staff my “discoveries” during their daily prayer & share time.
Little did I realize how that tiny bee would continue to speak to me as I tried to make sense of the desultoriness of my daily life – and to explore the potential, like the bee, of leaving “life . . . life . . . life . . .” to what I touched – but especially the single significant condition: that I first be “surcharged’ with God’s life. I wear a little gold bee on a chain around my neck as a constant reminder of this parable from nature.
When it came to this publication, it made sense to call attention to that life-infusing truth first, visually, on the cover of the book, and then with the opening “bee” quote, setting the tone of the entire book. The image of Lilias’ bee flitters throughout the book – title pages, sectional breaks – a continual reminder of the importance of drawing daily, from God, the life-giving pollen throughout ones walk of faith.
Do you have any special hopes for this book?
This, I suppose, is my heart desire for this book: that the readers will be encouraged in their own personal walks of faith to be intentional in seeking ways of being “surcharged” with the life-giving “pollen” that God offers through His Word and His world . . . that the readers will be inspired and challenged by Lilias’ words and watercolors to explore the many means of grace that God provides for the soul in pilgrimage: ways of drawing closer to the very heart of God.
How does Images of Faith encourage this journey of faith?
I believe that Lilias’ words are as relevant today as when she wrote them. They were formed by her own daily walk with God, nurtured by prayer, Scripture, and service and tested by a life-time of living. Today, we have the distinct advantage of being able to look into Lilias’ life, through her diaries, at the events or circumstances she was facing when she penned or painted those insights and to see how she interpreted her daily walk through the light given her from God’s Word and His world. Her wisdom is as relevant today as it was 100 years ago – the truth for which, I believe, our hungering spirits long. These lessons are grouped into eight sections, each with a unique focus: Images of Joy, God, Redemption, Spiritual Growth, Prayer, Service, Refreshment, and Faith.
How has the process of writing your reflections on her work impacted your life?
Writing my reflections on her insights was pure luxury! To simply soak in her world, her art, her words – her “beholdings” – was a joyful privilege which continues, for me, beyond the last sentence of the book! Appropriating these lessons, for me, is an ongoing process.
Thank you, Miriam, for taking the time to share with us your heart about this book. To purchase the Devotional Edition of Images of Faith, click here.