Saturday, March 01, 2008

Faith

Faith is a bird that feels dawn breaking and sings while it is
still dark.
- Scandinavian Saying

When I was growing up, my Mutti had a cleaning lady, Wilma, who came once a week. She was a good Dutch woman and an impeccable cleaner, probably the only one who has ever cleaned to my mother’s standards. This woman could make absolutely anything sparkle and shine and I am sure dust quivered in her shadow, we certainly did. She was just that kind of woman.

Thursday evenings were an inevitable stress for us kids as we had to “tidy” before Wilma came to clean, because you see, Wilma only cleaned. She was not there to pick up after us. She was very strict about that. Those were her rules. Nothing, absolutely nothing, was to get in the way of her cleaning.

The tension on Thursday nights was such that at one juncture one of my sisters, in the midst of a meltdown, took a purple wax crayon and in her scrawly grade one printing wrote, “Wilma, I just can’t take it anymore,” on the inside door panel of my mother’s antique washstand. Those were sentiments that I am sure we had all shared at one point or another, but luckily for us, my mother found this message of distress before Wilma ever happened upon it. If she would have, I am not quite sure what would have happened, but I am sure it wouldn’t have been good. We probably would have been down one good irreplaceable cleaning lady and sentenced to numerous years of cleaning penitence. But that’s not really what this story is about. You see, when Wilma started, she made it very clear to my mother that this was not a long term affair. She would only clean for my mother until her husband returned. He had left her some years previous, but she was adamant that at some point he would come to his senses, change his mind and they would be reunited. Well, weeks turned into months and months into years, but just the same, as if it were her mantra, she would say, “You know, I won’t be here for long. My husband is going to come back to me and when he does I will quit. I’m only cleaning until my husband returns.”

I know many of you are probably now thinking that this is a story of some highly delusional and probably obsessive compulsive woman, and it certainly might seem that way. Wilma was our faithful housecleaner for a good ten years or more, just as faithful to us as she was to her mantra. Then one day, just like that, out of the blue, she phoned my mother and said, “I won’t be cleaning for you any more, my husband has just come home.”

Apparently it only takes the faith of a mustard seed to move a mountain. At present, I’m working on trying to move molehills while attempting to remember that thoughts become things.

29 comments:

The Fool said...

Faith is a powerful force, Nomad.

I have just finished reading Victor E. Frankl's book "Man's Search for Meaning." Frankl was a psychiatrist and concentration camp survivor.

An important observation he made about faith from his time in the camps seems appropriate here: The prisoner who had lost faith in the future - his future - was doomed. We are all prisoners in this sense...so always keep the faith that your future has meaning.

And his advice for making the best possible use of our transitory existence as we make our way?

Live as if you were living for the second time and had acted as wrongly the first time as you are about to act now. I would add that inaction is an action.

Keep the faith, Nomad...and put that faith into action. You can move mountains. I have faith in that.

Peace to you.

justacoolcat said...

Awesome. I didn't see that coming.

Carrie said...

Wow.. 10 years. that is one faithful woman.

dawn said...

What a great story and greater message. Wow. And that is pretty funny what your sister wrote.

Carla said...

Fool, Thanks for the book recommendation and your comments. It's not as if I don't have faith, in some areas of my life I have great faith...for me, my faith lacks in matters of the heart as it's not just myself I'm putting my faith in. And yes, I agree inaction is a choice and in many, if not most instances, not a very good one. Peace to you as well.

Carla said...

Cool Cat, Neither did we, neither did we.

Carrie, She most certainly was. Although personally, I'm not sure I would want to be with a man who would leave me and neglect me for that long. But that's just me.

Carla said...

Dawn, Many times fact is stranger than fiction, isn't it. And yes, what my sister wrote was quite funny. We've had a few chuckles over that one over the years.

Fede said...

Carla,

[10 minutes in awe]

I cannot write anything.

I will, but I have to wait for the echoes to fade...

Good night, and good luck. I will be online.

Carla said...

Fede, You can't really expect me to believe that you were in awe for a full ten minutes. Tell me the truth now.

Steffi said...

Great story ,Carla!Really good!

Mone said...

faith sure is a moving thing, wow!

rowena said...

I just can't get that image of a purple-crayoned plea for help out of my mind. Beautiful post Carla...

Anonymous said...

Great story. Hey fool (forgive me carla for using your blog as a message board) read Frankl many years ago as a university undergrad. As I recall "Meaning" took on a much more profound quality when his life was totally void of any creature comforts and any sense that his life would continue for even one more day. I understood it at the time but have struggled to maintain that acute sensitivity to the meaning of the most mundane activity in the midst of my many western comforts. Do you think it's necessary to take a vow of poverty and move to a monastery to do that?

Randy

Carla said...

Steffi, I'm glad you liked it. Thanks.

Mone, Yes, it's amazing what a little bit of faith will help us accomplish.

Carla said...

Rowena, Thanks. Yes, that purple crayoned plea has been something our family has never forgotten either.

Carla said...

Randy, Use the blog as a message board anytime. The discussion adds to the interest of the topic. I'm sure that I've just barely scratched the surface and that there is lots more out there. In any case, an interesting hypothesis. I'm not sure that poverty is a necessity, but most definitely in today's society there are many distractions. It takes a very strong person to stay focused.

The Fool said...

Frank: Frankl noted three primary venues for finding meaning: through deed, love, and suffering. Through suffering is the hardest ...but so necessary. His establishment of logotherapy went far beyond the confines of the camps after WWII.

Frankl also noted many times his dismay with American culture...and the necessity of establishing meaning in one's life as being just as important in the midst of Western comforts. The concept of "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness is devoid of responsibility. Responsibility is the key for Frankl. As he said: I recommend that the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast. Frankl did not live in a monastary...and I do not think that is necessary at all. As I said, I think we are all prisoners...especially in America. The best of prisons needs no key or lock.

H'lo Nomad...sure wish I knew the rest of this story...

Carla said...

Fool, Yes, I too wish I knew the other side to that story, but unfortunately I have no more to add. But I am now very intrigued by Frankl's book. Many certainly are prisoner's in this society. For having so much, many of us are utterly steeped in misery and live lives totally devoid of hope and meaning.

VE said...

Awesome. You mean I can depart on a 10 year sabbatical to see the world and my girlfriend will still be there when I get back? Why didn't you tell me this sooner?

The Fool said...

And I apologize, Randy...for the error in address...

Nothing meant by it...just responding in haste during the morning madness...

Pink said...

Ahhhh. But you see...the mountain is already moved. You only have to see it is so.
xx
pinks

Anonymous said...

No apology necessary fool, I understand. I appreciate the feedback. And, trust me, I have been called much worse :).

Randy

Carla said...

VE, You better run a check by your girlfriend first to determine if she has that kind of faith and tolerance.

Pinks, So it is, so it is. I will have to try to remember that.

Mark said...

Great story!!
It is amazing what a little faith will do!

Carla said...

Mark, A little faith certainly will go a long way.

Fede said...

I will, but not here on these pages.

Indeed I was, or I thought I was, or perhaps I was more captivated by sad thoughts than anything else. I really liked the way you wrote, the conclusion was perfect, but only a little tougher than I could handle.

Good night and good luck.

Carla said...

Fede, Occasionally life is tougher than we can handle. I won't pretend it's not. But for the most part, we weather the storm, even if we come out the other end a little more battered than we would like. Lobotomy anyone?

Sandi @the WhistleStop Cafe said...

Beautiful Story!
To walk in faith everyday is not so easy.

Carla said...

Sandi, No, it most certainly isn't. But I'm sure it gets easier with practice.