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Something to think on from my sister

The Invisible Mother
by Nicole Johnson

I'm invisible.......
It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response,
the way one of the kids will walk in 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 if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor,
or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all.
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, "Pick me up right around 5:30,
please."
 
I was certain that these were the hands that once held books
and these eyes studied history and this mind had graduated summa cum laude
but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter,
  never to be seen again.
  
One night, my friends were celebrating the return of a friend from England.
Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip,
and she was going 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 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 clip and I thought I could actually smell peanut butter in it.
I was feeling pretty pathetic, when my friend gave me 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:
"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 spend so much time carving something 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, 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,
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 book’s author said no cathedrals could be built now 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.

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Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
lynnh
Oct. 23rd, 2007 05:26 pm (UTC)
Thanks for posting that.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )