Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Invisible Woman ....

"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 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 the

eyes that studied history and the mind that 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


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."

This is an excerpt from a book called "The Invisible Woman".This was given to me, at a time last spring, when I was busy building walls and was reminded by a dear friend that what I really should be focusing on was the beautiful Cathedrals I was building.I so needed that reminder that day.I continue to need that nudge from time to time.I send it lovingly, once again, to all of you mom's who come here daily.Remind yourselves often of the great works you are doing each and everyday.I want to also acknowledge those that come here and find that this excerpt doesn't even come close to mirroring your life and what goes on in it on a daily basis.I understand that as well.You all inspire me at a time when I know you would rather not.You would much rather just have a normal,whatever that is, run of the mill, carpooling mom life.I get that as well.I truly do.I wear a lot of different hats as a mom nowadays and soon will don a new hat ...a grandmother.It is often difficult to distinguish which one to put on from time to time but the bottom line for me is that,regardless of the specifics of my life as mom and the daily ebb and flow of that job,I am truly doing what I have always aspired to be doing.How incredibly blessed am I?Enjoy your day ladies.Take in,savor and cherish those cathedrals you are building.


stephanie said...

Thanks for starting my mothers day with a good cry, that was so beautiful. Enjoy your day!

just jean said...

That excerpt was so beautiful. THanks for posting it. And, to all the intricate, amazing, unique cathedrals in the world....thanks for the opportunity to be part of your formation.
Happy Mother's Day.

Anonymous said...

just wanted to wish you a HAPPY MOTHERS DAY !!!

stephanie said...

thank you..

stephanie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Junior said...

Thank you that was beautiful.
Have a very happy mothers day

Lacey said...

That was so beautiful. I needed thta, I'm feeling a little like its time for a mommy day off. We don't get weekends off, or even holidays. And expecially the work that is Jaxson is exhausting. But I love every minute of my boys. They bring me so much joy.

Googsmom said...

Happy Mothers day Heather

Colleen said...

Thank you for sharing...happy mothers day!

stephanie said...

It really was a "good" cry. Happy tears as a always tell the kids.

The VW's said...

I've posted this on my blog before. It really puts things into perspective, doesn't it?! A great reminder for all of us moms!

Happy Mother's Day Heather!!!

Just Another Ordinary Miracle said...

A friend sent me an email about this last year. Happy Mothers Day - to a cathedral.

Anonymous said...

Dearest Heather,
Happy Mother's Day. I loved your post. Thanks!! I'm so proud of you and hope that you know that you are building a beautiful cathedral. I hope you get inspiration from the beautiful young ladies that you have raised. A grandmother? How did it get to be that you are a 30 year old grandmother :)Ha! Ha! Miss you - Hugs to the Princess Zoey! Christy Pinuelas

Devon said...

This is an amazing post. It made me smile.

Kele said...

Heather, I remember you sending this to me in the fall, I soooo needed it at the time and it is a wonderful reminder today! I think I will share it with my blog friends this week as well, thank you.
I hope you had a lovely Mother's Day, you are certainly one of the best Mommies I have ever met and I feel pretty lucky to learn from you and call you friend.
Kiss the love bug for me!

Samantha said...

thank you for posting that... I needed it... Today went, well... not as great as Hallmark leads you to believe... i really needed to read that. Thank you.

I hope you had a wonderful mothers day. You deserve it every day of the year.

Michelle said...

What a great post! I think I ought to read that book too!:) I hope, dear friend that you had a blessed, wonderful and very Happy Mothers Day! Love to you!

Laura said...

Hello Zoey and family,

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Please know I will continue to keep your amazing family in my prayers.

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