Monday, September 24, 2007

Cathedral Builders

My mom sent this to me today. How she knew that it was exactly what I needed can only be explained by knowing she is an amazing woman who was there once herself. Thanks for helping build Cathedrals, Mom, I hope you see the beauty in it today!

I'm invisible. 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, "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 . My friend 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 she 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 Danielle, 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, Danielle. 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 a re 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.


Jill said...

Oh Danni, I neded this today also. Thank you for sharing.

I am goin to link this to mine.

Nadine said...

Great post Danni. It's so encouraging and uplifting. It's so important to remember the big picture. Thanks.

Your cathedral is awesome.

Patty and Steve said...

I see what you do, and you do such a wonderful job. Love you, miss you. Give the kids and Jason a hug from me.

Jessica said...

OH my Goodness Danielle. I literally have goosebumps and wide eyes and an awestruck heart. I love you so much. You are a fantastic mom.

Maybe I'm just emotional today, but I have tears coming to my eyes. This is the most insightful, truth-infused post I've read in a long time.

Everything is tied together... your feelings are so vulnerably laid out.

I appreciate you so much.

Keep building and, at the end of the day, fall into the arms of grace.

- Jess <><

Joy said...

Beautiful post Danni...
I love you :)

LL said...

Sometimes I wonder what is meant by the scripture that talks about the volumes and volumes that could've been written about the things Jesus did in his few short years of ministry.

How much of what he did was even seen by someone who could've recorded it? How much of it was just him and his dad, "doin' stuff"?

I love you. You are NOT invisible. You are an amazing mom, regardless of how you feel from one day to the next.

Never, ever give up!!

A Woman Who is: said...

Amazing analogy, God is so good to speak to our hearts and encourage us at the right time, to give us his perspective. I remember when God needed to convince me that raising my family was my biggest mission on the planet. And I am forever grateful he did!
Psa 127:5 Oh, how blessed are you parents, with your quivers full of children! Your enemies don't stand a chance against you; you'll sweep them right off your doorstep.