Wednesday, January 6, 2010

If You Build, It will Come

I was in the car with my son today. He is turning three next week. There are various trucks parked on the road we pass daily. And construction workers. They are laying water pipes so there's a lot of digging going on, not to mention traffic. It's a good thing I'm not driving.

He asks a gazillion times, "What's that?" and I promptly give one-word answers like "soil", "pipes", "crane" obviously not paying attention to what interests him. If you're around this boy everyday, construction terms are a regular part of the conversation. Normally, I would be fascinated when he suddenly screams "Mom, a flat-bed truck!" because trucks look all the same to me. Unfortunately, I was thinking of something else this morning. But it doesn't escape his sensitive radar. So he blurts out "I need to push the soil," immediately followed by "but I have to grow up first." So now he has my attention. It suddenly occurs to me that he is three and growing up faster than I can say "cherry picker truck".

My mind wanders. I see him with a hard hat, on the top floor of an unfinished building in a vastly undeveloped land that is to become another city. Will he be one of the workers having lunch while sitting on one of those metal bars? Will he be driving a bulldozer to "push the soil"? Will he be calculating the load that walls can bear and signing blueprints? I smile at that last thought. My father is an engineer and I had always dreamed of becoming an architect. But I was dissuaded from pursuing a man's profession. So I took up Business, a practical course, and was fortunate to have worked in a creative field for many years, albeit on the management side. Eventually, I studied Interior Design which I happily practiced before I had children. I'm blessed to have part of my dream fulfilled somehow. Others don't get a second chance.

I hold my son's hand. It is big and he has a strong grip. He could use it well for holding tools. Or drafting, if he is inclined to do that. I tell myself to be aware and to do everything I possibly can to help him find what he's meant to do. So I say, "Maybe we could dig in the garden sometime. Would you like that?" He nods. "Okay, I'll get some pipes and we could lay that just like those men. You need to wear a hard hat though." He beams. The thought excites me. Finally, I have something in common with my little boy. I can't wait to see where his dreams will take him. But right now, we just have to start building.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Work of Christmas Begins

Today, my husband left early for work. My daughter went back to school. My son is at his grandmother's. Our house is back to its regular routine except for piles of gifts that have to be sorted and stored away, the advent wreath, the tree and its ornaments stashed in boxes, and the baby Jesus, mom, dad and company kept until next Christmas.

Other than post-holiday chores, I look around and see that everything is the same. There is laundry to be done, the grocery list is on the fridge, the bills are waiting to be paid ... and I wonder how this Christmas has changed my life as a wife and mother. I think about the Blessed Mother and how her life was never the same after she had said yes to God. And then I see how I've said no so many times these past two years.

Perhaps the emptiness I had been feeling throughout the season despite a full schedule with family and friends was borne out of not having enough room for another baby - the Child whom I used to look forward to with much anticipation. Now that I have my own children, it is easy to get lost focusing on their needs. Especially on occasions that call for gift-giving and merriment.

Yet, last night, I think I caught a glimpse of the Christmas I had been longing for. We were on our way home when my daughter asked for the bag of goodies we leave in the car for streetkids who knock on our window at stoplights. She had seen one but he had walked past our car towards the sidewalk. So my husband waved at him to come over and she was able to hand him a small bag with crackers and candy. Her eyes glowed and she smiled with satisfaction saying
"I really had been wanting to do that, mom." My eyes started to mist, and my heart felt warm. It was the Feast of the Three Kings, and the boy looked like he had just been given gold.

Howard Thurman said it so well...

When the song of the angels is stilled
When the star in the sky is gone
When the kings and princes are home
When the shepherds are back with the flocks
then the work of Christmas begins:

to find the lost
to heal those broken in spirit
to feed the hungry
to release the oppressed
to rebuild the nations
to bring peace among all peoples
to make a little music with the heart...

And to radiate the Light of Christ everyday in every way
in all that we do and in all that we say
then the work of Christmas truly begins.

I look around once more. My ordinary life stares at me. I smile at it. I know that this year, I can make it extraordinary.