When I signed on to Facebook this morning, this appeared in my feed as a 'memory'. I had received it from one of my daughters along with a sweet note, and had posted it as my status several years ago. After reading it again, I felt it was worthy of presenting here. I do not know of the original author to give her the proper credit.
It's all beginning 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 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. The invisible mom. Some days I am only a pair of hands, and 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 tv guide to answer the question, 'What is the number of the Disney Channel?' I'm a taxi service, answering the call, 'I need you to pick me up right around five, please.'
Some days I'm a crystal ball. 'Where's my other sock?' 'Where's my phone?' 'What's for dinner?'
I am certain that these are the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history, music and literature. But now, they have 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. She had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the wonderful hotel where she'd stayed. 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 my traveling friend turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and told me that she'd brought something for me. 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 four life-changing truths, and upon them I would then pattern my work:
1. No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names.
2. The builders gave their entire lives for a work that they would never see finished.
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.
In the book a legend was told of a rich man who came to visit a cathedral while it was being built. As he walked 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 it."
I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was 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 on, no cupcake you've baked, no school meeting you've attended, no last minute errand run 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."
I keep the right perspective now and I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who shows 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 how few cathedrals will be built in our lifetime, because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to the degree needed in the days in which we live.
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 four in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for five hours and presses all the linens for our beautifully decorated table." That would mean I had built 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, he'd say, "You're gonna love it here at my house!"
As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot even be seen if we're doing it right. We are invisible. But one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what God has used us to build, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices made by invisible mothers.
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