Friday, December 5, 2008
Building Great Cathedrals
Monica, one of the best moms in the world to one of the most beautiful little girls in the world sent me the article below. I loved it and know you will also.
The Invisible Mother ......
It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response,
the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the
phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, 'Can't
you see I'm on the phone?' Obviously, not.
No one can see that I'm on the phone, or cooking, or vacuuming the
floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can
see me at all. I'm invisible. The Invisible Mom. 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, 'Can you pick me up at 5:30?'
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. 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
'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, 4 life-changing truths, after
which I could pattern my work:
1. No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record
of their names.
2. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never
3. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.
4. 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 about.
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 daughter to tell the
friend she'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 her to want to come home. And then, if there is
anything more to say to her friend, to add, 'You're gonna love it
As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot see 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.