Thursday February 28, 2008
Moms who build cathedrals
Are you a stay-at-home mom who feels invisible, as if your contribution is overlooked, and that the world sees you as someone who is "wasting" her education and talents? Do you worry that your husband and kids take you for granted? Nicole Johnson understands, and wrote about it in her novella. Excerpt:
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 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, 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."
Via Mark Shea, here's a new Catholic mom's blog, Building Cathedrals, the introduction to which is as follows:
Seven young, Catholic mothers who graduated from Princeton University, seeking to build our families just as the architects of the great cathedrals built their detailed masterpieces: day by day, stone by stone, with attention to details that only He will see.
Seven bachelors degrees, four advanced degrees, and nearly 200 combined months of pregnancy have only convinced us of how much we have left to learn in matters of faith, family and vocation. We adhere wholeheartedly to every doctrine of the Holy Catholic Church, but the details beyond that, from co-sleepers and breast pumps to schooling options and professional life, are grounds for robust discussion with like-minded friends. Nothing written on this blog is intended to incite maternal guilt, anger or to advise on medical or legal matters. Virgin most prudent, pray for us!
I love the Internet. You go, mamas!
Although the same can be said for men that put their families before their career too.