Daily Draw October 17th, 2012
It is The Sad Day, the 20th anniversary of my Mom’s death. I wasn’t quite sure what kind of a draw to do today, or what sort of image or poetry to ponder.
There you have it, the clock on the wall, which I long ago decorated with a custom face of postage stamps of Newfoundland dogs and a font with plaid numbers. My current Newfoundland dog is named after my Mom.
I picked a random passage from the book The Weaker Vessel by Antonia Fraser, which is about women in 17th century England. This particular passage deals with Quakers and the impetus for specialized Women’s Meetings where women could preach and be heard publicly. Scary stuff for men who apparently felt women were evil, and because of Eve responsible for the fall of Man, or felt that letting women speak would usurp the god-given right of authority for the man of the household.
Isabel Yeamans continued: ‘Here will be work and business enough for us all that none need to be Idle in God’s vineyard, but as we have everyone received a measure of God’s spirit and grace some may be fellow helpers and workers together with our brethren in the work of the lord in these gospel days…’ It was the distinguishing Quaker argument, first laid down by George Fox, that women too should be allowed to be ‘serviceable’ in their own ‘places and stations’. Isabel Yeamans wrote: ‘So every member of the body whereof Christ our lord is head may be serviceable and although we may be many members and some much more honourable than others yet no member though it is small is to be despised.’
Isabel was the daughter of Margaret Fell, from her first marriage. Margaret was one of the founding members of the Quakers, and wrote frequently on the leadership and ministry of women. She eventually married George Fox eleven years after her first husband died. George Fox converted much of her family to Quakerism, so it seemed rather natural that they marry and her daughter Isabel continue on the work, herself becoming a preacher.
After my Mom’s funeral when we gathered at the house with visitors, my Dad kept saying “Women are the key” when talking to people. I think he realized after my Mom died, how much she did in her own quiet, cheery way and that she was not a weaker vessel at all. How small is small? Who decides who is small? Who remembers that the smallest can also have the biggest effect?
That’s my Mom. Her name was Isabel.