Cathedrals

I received this from mom via email:

“It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the wayone of the kids will walk into the room while I’m on the phone and ask to betaken to the store.

Inside I’m thinking, ‘Can’t you see I’m on the phone?’Obviously not; no one can see if I’m on the phone, or cooking, or sweepingthe floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can seeme at all.

I’m invisible; “The Invisible Mom.”Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can youtie 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 eyesthat studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude – but nowthey had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She’sgoing, she’s going, and she’s gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of afriend from England.

Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, andshe 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 tocompare 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 unwashedhair was pulled up in a hair clip and I was afraid I could actually smellpeanutbutter in it.

I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with abeautifully wrapped package, and said, ‘I brought you this.’ It was a bookon 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 thegreatness of what you are building when no one sees.’

In the days ahead I would read – no, devour – the book. And I would discoverwhat would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I couldpattern my work: No one can say who built the great cathedrals – we have norecord of their names .

These builders gave their whole lives for a work theywould 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 Godsaw everything.A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit thecathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny birdon the inside of a beam.

He was puzzled and asked the man, ‘ Why are youspending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered bythe roof?

No one will ever see it.’ And the workman replied, ‘Because Godsees.’I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place.

It was almostas if I heard God whispering to me, ‘I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one ar ound 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 buil ding 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 diseasethat 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 went sofar as to say that no cathedrals coul d ev er be built in our lifetime becausethere are so few people wil ling to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don’t want my son to tell the friend he’s bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, ‘My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens fo r the table.’

That would mean I’d built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home.

And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, ‘you’re gonna love it there.’As mothers, we are building great cathedrals.

We cannot be seen if we’re doing it right. And one day, it is very possible th at the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.”

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