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Posts Tagged ‘mothers’

In Ordinary Time

On the TarmacFirst of all, I don’t know the man in the photo.  This was taken on January 16, 2009, as I sat in a waiting area of Terminal 3 in Pearson International Airport.  Not that I didn’t care to know his name, you understand.  It was fairly impossible to do that, given that this very thick glass that served to keep us inside the building and several hundred feet separated us.

I think it would have been great to know his name, though — to simply thank him for doing his job and being out there in the cold while I sat waiting for my flight to board.  Standing there in the middle of the tarmac, in his bright, yellow jacket, with two orange pylons and those orange things he was waving around to direct the pilots who were landing — he was nameless to most (if not all) travellers passing through the airport that day.  I was grateful to have him there doing what he had been trained to do in order to help people in their travels, most of whom he too did not know at all.

Do you ever feel nameless and inconsequential — almost like the fly on the wall the other flies don’t really mind?  Most of our world is all about “extreme” this or that, “larger than life!”, more, more, more — supersize that for me with a side order of overly-large fries.  Those who have a lot want more and those who do not have much are tempted by envy of the conspicuous consumption of those around them.  And in the frenzy of grabbing those “Today only 50% off!” whatchamacallits before that other lady with the feverish look in her eyes gets it all, we can very easily forget that we are human.  We are people who need others:  to love, to care for, to talk to, to be with.  The more we focus on ourselves, the lonelier we are.  The more we look inward, the more alone we become.  We, unwittingly through our own efforts, close others off.

But this man who stood in his yellow jacket in the middle of the tarmac was there at his job doing a service to others.  Sure he was getting paid for it.  Who says it’s a bad thing to get paid for work done?  A person has to earn a living and this is just as good a job as any.  What is striking is the fact that there really is no recognition for those who, like our guy on the tarmac, are doing a service that passed unnoticed by most people who benefit from it.  We do not need to be in the limelight to feel important.  You and I matter.  You and I make a difference in the world through the work we do, even if we sometime or most time feel that we are not thanked enough or given enough compensation.  The work that goes unnoticed by most does is usually that which helps to sustain everyday ordinary life. And most of the time, we live in this ordinary time in our own ordinary set of circumstances, one day at a time.  It is as it should be.  Feasts and thrilling events happen every now and then, but the “meat” of our lives lie, not in never-ending excitement but in the moments that pass by one at a time, to the rhythm of a heartbeat.

So what about those diapers you need to change again?  And those dishes that need washing again?  And the vacuuming that needs to get done again?  And the laundry that waits in a silent pile — again?  They will always be there and it is for you and for me to be grateful that they are.  They remind us of those around us whom we love.  That’s worth every bit of the work we do “behind the scenes”.

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On 3 May 2008, I gave a talk entitled, “Mission Possible:  Putting Family First at the Mom, You’re Incredible! event, which was sponsored by the Neeje Association for Women and Family.  I am posting an article based on the outline for that talk on this page.  Because of the length of the article, it will be published on this blog on the page “Putting Family First” in several parts over a period of two weeks.

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