Friday, August 31, 2007

I am invisible

I have been sitting here trying to decide what to write for a while now, so I decided to check my email. The first one was from my mom, who sent me this wonderful story. I don't have kids yet, but I do have a husband, and I hope that it helps all you moms out there who wonder if it is worth it sometimes.


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 th at 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 went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever
be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing 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 for 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 that 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.


The story had no author, but I think as long as take it to heart, we can all claim it as our own.

3 comments:

Gatnnos said...

Wow! That is a really good story. Thanks for sharing.

loudaisy said...

That is a fantastic story. I am glad you shared it with us.

Dixie Chic said...

My mom sent the story to me, too, and I bawled like a baby. :)