He fills the longing soul with good things. Ps. 107:9


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Building Cathedrals

Thank you, Regina, for sending this. I needed 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. Janice had just gotten back from 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." 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.
Great Job!!!!!"
Now THAT'S encouraging....
Julie W said...

Julie W

Michele Jewett said...

I found this article a few weeks ago and read it to the moms at our homeschool group! It was such an encouragement then and thanks for posting it to remind me again the work I'm doing matters. Love your blog!

Gene Davis said...

Beautiful!!!!! Thank you to all mothers!!!!

Angie Davis said...

I love it! Sometimes the laundry and the peanut butter and the dirty diapers obscure my view of the big picture. :)

Kim M. said...

I needed that! Thank you!!!

sankey family said...

Oh, Sarah, how appropriate and how touching! I needed this today, too. Love you.....Melodie

The Millard Family said...

Sarah, I'm so glad I found you too. Your blog is so beautiful. I have so much to learn.

Lavy Country said...

That was so good!! We are somebody's hero!
Thank you for the timely reminder. I had a rather busy, sleep deprived week, but took my kids to a church campout last night and stayed in the tent with them. The "your the best - mom" was payment in full. I'll catch up on the sleep eventually :o)
Miss you!
Love, wl

Anonymous said...

WOW! You need to write a book! While somewhat hilarious, it was truly inspirational! And totally uplifting! I too feel "invisible" at times with my 3 children, but I try to keep my focus on the fact that I am raising HIS KINGDOM BUILDERS and that my outdated clothes and "housewife" hairdo is so small in comparison! I enjoyed your blog! ~Lisa Graham Pond

Juwah said...


Thanks for the encouraging post. A great reminder that my life is not about me. My little "cathedrals" are in the bathtub right now fighting over the "right" to sing a solo and not a duet, so I can't take long, since I need to go "sand the plaster". :)

Thanks also for your comment on my blog. I'd love the Challah recipe, however, I don't have a bread machine. If you think I could still use the recipe without a bread machine I'd love to have it. I'll email you my address just in case.

David and Sarah Fry said...

Wish I could take credit, Lisa...but I didn't write this. It is a piece my friend Regina found and sent me through email. I still don't know who the original author is.

Ronda said...

I really enjoyed the article...Thanks for sharing! I needed that today!

Valorie said...

Incredible analogy. Good read for moms a.k.a architects/designers/sculpters/etc.
love ya, Sarah. Your blog is fun and real.

GodSeeker said...

Hi Sarah!! Laura Ferguson just sent me a link to this post from last year after reading my post from today. :o) I searched and found it's origin. Check out http://www.parenthood.com/article-topics/article-topics.php?Article_ID=10240. I'm glad you posted it. I think I'll post it on my blog for Mother's Day!

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