He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman.
He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist."
~ St. Francis of Assisi
When I think about my Husband's hands, I cannot help but smile. They are the most beautiful hands in the world to me-- truly works of art. His hands are large, his fingers long. A concert pianist would be envious. I have often wanted to do a charcoal sketch of my Husband's hands, for they at once manly and strong, yet they can be so loving and gentle. Next to his, my own hands, which I have often thought of as being stubby and masculine, seem very small and feminine. My secret love is when my Husband holds me close and strokes my long hair. It makes me feel loved and cherished. Although I must admit a close second to this is when he is wielding a strap, wooden spoon, riding crop, or whip. For it is done, as always, as a labour of love. :-)
My Husband's work with his hands and his head have also become quite fruitful lately. In less than a week, my Husband and I travel to the Middle East. This is for the second part of an interview for a professorship position for which he has applied. This career would be, in every way, a dream job. Although my Husband wishes to be humble and cautious, I tend to think that the university in question-- a very well-to-do, up-and-coming satellite campus of a major university-- would not make the effort to send us both there for a short trip if they were not prepared to make him an offer. While we are truly grateful for my Husband's current work, we do hope for better circumstances. The area in which we live is expensive. Even so, because we live outside of the (even more exorbitantly-priced) city, his daily commute takes him several hours to complete. Spending twelve hours a day--sometimes more or less-- apart from one other has been hard on us both.
My Husband was meant to be a professor. This job would allow him to be fulfilled in his career. Other perks include a very generous and tax-free salary, subsidised housing, one free direct flight home a year via business class, and opportunities to travel. Best of all, my Husband and I would have quality time together. No price tag can be put on such a blessing. In all things, we pray for God's will to be done. While living on another continent, so far away from family and friends, could prove to be scary and even difficult to grow accustomed to, my Husband and I are blessed with adventurous spirits. For my part, I cannot say I would mind all that much being a traditional wife in a region where traditional values and traditional gender roles are celebrated instead of being the exception to the rule. Sometimes I feel so oppressed in this era of supposed "women's liberation" for simply being who I am.
During this past week, I have also had to use my hands, my head, and my heart for the resolution of a personal matter. My cousin-- the one I have jokingly referred to in the past as my "twin" cousin, since she was born a few days after me (in the same hospital) and our parents almost gave us the same given name--and I have exchanged several e-mails back for forth. Writing to her has been a painful challenge. I had begun to notice a coldness between us around Christmastime, after I had given her a hand-made quilt for her infant son. Although my cousin has always tended to be more distant with me, it was surprising not to receive even a single word of thanks. Even so, I gave her the benefit of the doubt. She had, after all, lost her sister during the summer and is still dealing with that tragedy. A conversation or two with my mother prompted the latter to ask her niece about the quilt. A few days ago, I received a short note. This began a back-and-forth dialog.
The whole exchange was-- although I am not entirely certain it is finished-- rather disheartening. I was shocked to learn that my cousin has harboured much anger and resentment toward me for well over a year. I was verbally attacked, my motives were harshly judged, and I was accused of offending not only her and her husband, but also her whole family as well. My cousin prides herself on being "blunt." She does an admirable job of this, it must be said. Yet, if this is so, why would she chose to be passive-aggressive about these particular situations and allow her thoughts and feelings to fester underneath the surface for so long? Especially when she had taken things so terribly wrong. Sadly, my cousin's anger towards me was largely due to her own misconceptions. It hurt to have all manner of vicious things flung at me when, in my heart of hearts and before God, I knew that my actions towards her had been done out of selflessness, maturity, and love.
For a while, I allowed my cousin's accusations to eat me alive. What is worse, I worried that her words reflected the sentiments of that branch of the family. My mother's side of the family tends to be provincial and "clique-ish," prone to their own narrow way of thinking and to gossip. I have never been like this. As a result, I have seldom fit in with my family members, those whom I do love so much.
I feel sorry for my Husband, who had to console me through this trial. In all of this, however, I learned an important lesson: One cannot please everyone; a soul can only please God. (And, of course, His lawful representatives.) Instead of returning my cousin's angry words with fiery ones of my own, I was determined to love. That is, after all, what she needed most-- to be shown the love of Christ. And that is what I knew would most please Him.
Saint Francis's quote is very beautiful and true. I would go even further and say that he who works with his hands, his head, his heart, and his whole soul for the praise and glory of God is well on his way to becoming a saint.
This brings me to my last point. We are all called to be saints. We who are in Christ have been called by Him the "light of the world" (cf. Matthew 5:14). Imagine for a moment a world in which each soul radiates the love of God, according to their unique gifts and talents. Would this not be truly beautiful? It would require us to give of ourselves. Yet, if every one of us-- we who are but a single soul-- would shine forth our light, we would light up the whole world! Keeping the light for ourselves does little good; it is like hiding a lamp underneath a basket. The light is diminished and souls would stumble about in the dark and be lost.
On this blessed St. Valentine's Day, may we take this thought to heart and choose to live our lives as an instrument of God's grace. While on this side of eternity we may never fully see the impact of our "light" on the lives of others, let us not become discouraged. Our "yes" to Him will have further reaching consequences than we could ever dream possible.
Thank you to all of you who have been a part of this blog. "Confessions of a Traditional Wife" was begun two years ago this month as a way to track my spiritual progress. This little random blog, hidden within the great expanse of cyberspace, has turned into something much more tremendous than I could have ever imagined it would be; it has become something truly beautiful for God. Since its quiet creation, this blog has received nearly 32,000 hits from all around the world. These numbers continue to multiply on a daily basis, as more and more people find their way here. Whether you are a regular comment contributer or one who visits from time to time, I am so glad for your presence. It is my hope that my blog has been a source of life, light, and consolation to your soul. I pray it may continue to be so in the days and-- God willing-- the years to come.
May He continue to bless you all in a special and unique way.