I picked up my dear friend in St. Louis just before Thanksgiving. She had been travelling for over 15 hours from Hawaii and we hadn’t seen each other in over three years. We hugged as tears of joy welled in our eyes.
“Are you going to the Women of Velour Conference in January?” she asked me. We both began to roll with laughter!
“Velour?” I exclaimed. “Well no, but I do plan on attending the Women of Valor conference.” I cackled.
It was obvious that her exhausted state had left her brain-mouth connection in less than perfect order. We got a great chuckle out of it nonetheless. But, her gaffe got my imagination going.
I could see a large conference room full of women all wearing colorful, long flowing velour dresses. The thought made me smile. “Do I have a velour skirt?” I wondered. “Do velour and valor have a connection other than similar spelling? No, not etymologically” I mused. I dismissed this whole inner discourse and drove my friend to Tennessee where I actually live.
As the time of the conference neared and my friend was long gone back to the paradise of Hawaii, the velour/valor blunder played back into my thoughts. It obviously drew out some snickers and smiles, but also a longing for my friend’s cheery face. You see, humor is one of her gifts and I marvel at even the unintentional quips the Father gives her.
So just for giggles I decided to entertain this valor/velour mystery. Sure, I could be grasping for straws and wasting my time. But something just kept bugging me about these two words.
Velour is a closely woven fabric with a thick soft feel. It typically has a side that catches the light and makes it appear shiny —— one reason why women tend to like it. Valor is really a special type of courage; the kind that enables one to go to war or battle.
Pondering these definitions once again stirred my imagination. How many of us actually identify much more with velour than valor? I mean isn’t that one reason for a conference such as Women of Valor —— we need to be encouraged in this narrow yet glorious journey we are all on?
But how many of us find ourselves feeling more like a heavy garment, catching light here and there as life twirls us about? Reading through Proverbs 31 and comparing ourselves to this woman of great virtue and valor makes most of us cringe just a little—— if we are honest. I, for one, do not measure up!
Perhaps that’s the point. The Sages likened the Eshet Chayil (Woman of Valor) as a reference to the Shekinah (Divine presence), the Shabbat, the Torah, wisdom, and the soul. All these ideas are greater than I am, so that’s somewhat of a relief. I’ve also heard it taught that this woman is a metaphor for the Holy Spirit.
When we take each of this woman’s attributes into account, it makes perfect sense that THE woman of valor is indeed – our woman – the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) within us. And no, I’m not calling God a woman, but He does have both masculine and feminine characteristics.
If we look Proverbs 31 up in the Hebrew text, we can see that each verse is arranged in an acrostic to form the entire Hebrew aleph-bet. This type of prose in the bible has always fascinated me. Like with Psalm 119 (another Hebrew aleph-bet acrostic), my mind always thinks of the poem that says, “How do I love thee, let me count the ways.”
The poem is entitled: How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43) by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Reading about the author’s life led me to the fact that she chose to study Hebrew in order to read the Tanakh (O.T.) in its original language. Since Hebrew letters are also numbers, aleph-bet acrostics seem to be (re)counting the way of love. Did Mrs. Browning see this connection as well?
Regardless, Proverbs 31 enumerates the many virtues of the ideal woman; just as David enumerates the majesty and grace of the Torah in Psalm 119. “Let me count the ways…” Perhaps we as women should not only view the Woman of Valor as the ideal role model, but also as a way to recount the awesome comforts the Holy Spirit brings into our lives. For without Him, we are reduced to simple women of velour.
A woman of velour has forgotten who she is. She can only reflect light when she is seen at certain angles. She is struggling to make it through each day and is quite frankly, worn-out. She needs fresh garments and that is what the Women of Valor conference is all about.
We need each other. We need to be encouraged and challenged. We have a great responsibility to pass a life-filled baton to our children. Like the Virtuous Woman in Proverbs, we have much to do and when we unite together, we will see many great miracles to Adonai’s glory!
In closing, there is one other example of a woman of valor that I would like to examine. Her name was Ruth and she was given a new garment/covering. As I once again read these beloved passages, this time I couldn’t help but imagine that Boaz’s skirt or covering was made of beautiful shiny velour. Maybe velour isn’t so bad after all.
Ruth 3:9-11 And he said, Who art thou? And she answered, I am Ruth thine handmaid: spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid; for thou art a near kinsman. (10) And he said, Blessed be thou of the LORD, my daughter: for thou hast shewed more kindness in the latter end than at the beginning, inasmuch as thou followedst not young men, whether poor or rich. (11) And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou requirest: for all the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous woman [Eshet Chayil; Woman of Valor].
We might be women that occasionally wear velour, but through God’s Spirit we are being ever changed into Women of Valor. The covering of the Holy Spirit prepares us for every possible battle and recharges our hearts to press onward.
Women have a special place in the heart of God and in scripture. The Women of Valor conference is a unique opportunity for us to learn about how the Father is restoring us to serve Him in Spirit and Truth. Come and join us and be revived and equipped to fulfill the awesome role that is biblical womanhood.
I can’t wait to see all of Adonai’s women of faith arrayed for battle in velour or otherwise on January 11-13, 2013.