“You must once and for all give up being worried about successes and failures. Don’t let that concern you. It’s your duty to go on working steadily day by day, quite quietly, to be prepared for mistakes, which are inevitable, and for failures.” – Chekhov

This week I am thinking long about love that wipes and tends, smiles, scolds, sighs weary and coos appreciative.

I am thinking about mother artists with their chisels and detail brushes and cracked hands, nails all filled with the day’s clay. I am thinking about mothers who know their art.

And I am thinking about mothers crumpling when the art envisioned does not shine as imagined.

This week I am seeing mothers set timers to tend toddler sons who might stop breathing and need a change of position. I am watching her rock her lovely boy, his young skin taut and tinged blue. I imagine her heart beating, her breath slowing, racing to meet his.

This week I am seeing mothers bend low to hear, to hug long, to join in, to listen with wonder to stories of miniature animals and weary travelers.

I am seeing mothers lose tempers and tire of the everyday everydayness of it all. Those same tasks. The meal to prepare. The dishwasher to unload. The same reminder about where shoes and coats go. That marker-stained table with its same piles day after day.

The grind is grinding, and I am watching that slow and fast struggle. I am living the slow and fast struggle.

This week, I learned about Ruth. A poor woman, a foreigner, an outcast. A woman who woke early day after day to glean fields, to pick up the harvest leftovers and provide for herself and the elderly mother-in-law to whom she’d sworn faithfulness.

Each day, back-breaking labor. Each day, bags filled with fruit of her love sweat.

Day after day.

I’m thinking today of you.

Of your heart. Of your attention and devotion, of your care. I am thinking of those hours and days you pour out in your labor, your art. Those hours stooped, gathering.

None of this for nothing.

All touch, look, and act filling soul and stomach of one who needs you, loves you.

Those beautiful someones.

All of them — and you — exquisite, imperfect pieces of art.

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