Two months ago I first blogged about Janet Erskine Stuart - An Active Element of Joy. Today is the 97th anniversary of her untimely death, shortly before her 57th birthday.
Janet was a prolific writer - of poems, letters and conferences, as well as a book on education - so we have a large legacy with which to remember her and celebrate her giftedness. I first discovered her poetry a couple of years after I had made first vows. I was going through a difficult time, needing to rely on God - and others - to hold and carry me through. A sister who knew of my difficulties sent me an extract from one of Janet's poems, with a note to say that she hoped it would speak to me of the strong arms of God.
It did: in fact, more than that, as I prayed with them, the words sang softly deep within me, holding me with the strength of their trust and certainty in God's unfailing loving presence. Since then, they have come back time and again, to remind me of those strong arms, and help to still me into that place of sureness, of knowing, regardless of whatever stresses and storms are going on around me...
I know that when the stress has grown too strong
Though wilt be there,
I know that when the waiting seems so long
Thou hearest prayer,
I know that through the crash of falling worlds
Thou holdest me,
I know that life and death and all are Thine
On the strength of this verse I asked the sister who was responsible for our provincial archives if I could borrow a book of Janet's poetry. She gave me a copy to keep if I wanted, saying it was a spare. I still have the book, which I dip into from time to time; the sister, sadly, is no longer with us, having died a few months ago on the eve of Trinity Sunday. So I'm holding onto that book as much in her memory as Janet's.
PS: I'm about to go on retreat: eight days of quality time with God - and away from the internet. You can see where I will be via the link to "my favourite place for a retreat", and read a bit about a memory from last year here...