Friday, May 08, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

It’s been a bit hectic at our house the past few weeks. I switched jobs, had papers to finish and finals to take, we’re having work done at our house, and the kids always have something or other going on. I was beginning to crack under all this pressure until Gauri came home from school the other day with a card and drawing for Mother’s Day. Thinking it was still a couple of weeks away, I was a bit confused until she set me straight on the days that have been flying by.

Do you have anything special for Mother’s Day? Regardless of what day the government has set aside for mothers, know that everyday is special. As long as your children are healthy and with you, consider yourself blessed.

I leave you with this excerpt from Nicole Johnson’s novel The Invisible Woman (W Publishing Group, 2005):

I’m invisible.

Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this? Some days I’m not a pair of hands; I’m not even a human being. I’m a clock to ask, “What time is it?” I’m a satellite guide to answer, “What number is the Disney Channel?” I’m a car to order, “Right around 5:30, please.”
I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude -but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again.
She’s going … she’s going … she’s gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself as I looked down at my out-of-style dress; it was the only thing I could find that was clean. My unwashed hair was pulled up in a banana clip and I was afraid I could actually smell peanut butter in it.

I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, “I brought you this.” It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn’t exactly sure why she’d given it to me until I read her inscription: “To Charlotte, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.”

In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work:

•No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names.
•These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished.
•They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.
The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, “Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it.”
And the workman replied, “Because God sees.”

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, “I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you’ve done, no sequin you’ve sewn on, no cupcake you’ve baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can’t see right now what it will become.”


At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride. I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on.

The writer of the book goes on to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice themselves to such a degree. As mothers we are building great cathedrals. Hopefully, as the years go by, the world will hold its breath and marvel at the beauty that we’ve created.

Happy Mother’s Day!



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