I was at an office the other day and I saw something that just moved me..
It made me realize that there was another kind of picture that I needed to add to this mosaic that I’ve been trying to paint for you.
On the floor where I stood, there was what seemed to be a lone cleaning lady moping the hallway of a long office corridor.. She was wearing a long bright blue apron that all cleaning ladies typically wear here. She and her worn out mop were busy dealing with the grime that was dragged in from the street due to an all too common lack of paved roads and walkways. If it rains like it did on this day then there are always muddy foot prints to follow and this young woman was unfortunately having one of those days.
This is a commonly viewed scene that is a part of everyday life in Russia..
But what struck me was this..
I could not help staring in wonder at how incredibly beautiful and angelic this young woman was.
She was probably about 26 years old, 5 feet 7 inches, with a delicate and upright ice skaters figure. A tightly braided mane of golden hair reached halfway down her back and would sway in time with the mop that she was swinging from side to side.
Her marble blue eyes focused downwards towards a toddler who seemed more doll like then the 4 year old that he probably was. This child was anxiously clutching his mother’s leg eagerly wanting more of her attention.
She paused and stooped down to meet his eyes to say something. Only the boy could hear what she was gently whispering.. Whatever was said between a young mother and her son had an instant soothing effect.. And a precious little smile just lit up a dark hallway with the clear glow of peace and contentment.
As is customary here with divorced women she prominently wore a single banded ring on her left hand to show the world her status. For an American or Western woman a ring on this finger symbolizes her status as a wife. But in Russia it means that she is a wife no more.
Although there are many women of such beauty in Russia.. this young lady was clearly one of the stronger ones.. she possessed a strength not just in her ability to survive but also a determination to hold onto a clear sense of feminine grace in the face of such daily hardships.
Because of my time and experiences in Russia.. it really wasn’t hard to “read” who she was. You can tell alot about a woman by the way she patiently treats her children.
On one hand she was obviously someone who was very beautiful and vulnerable. A woman who was likely born into difficult circumstances which hasn’t yet given her a real break..
But nonetheless.. this young lady possessed a quiet resolve to move forward anyway she could in order to protect her young son. I once thought that storybook scenes such as this were only created from the imagination and skilled hands of a fine porcelain china doll maker..
However on this day I was again reminded that life only reveals her true treasures when you least expect it.
I know that this woman would be considered lucky if she took home 150 dollars for a month’s work. Thirty days of pushing a mop around some dark corridor along with a bucket of black water.. but at that moment with her precious son.. none of that really seemed to matter..
She had a job to do.. a mouth to feed and an eager young mind to fill.
For even if this young lady never had a good man in her life..
Soon she would have to do her best to teach her son how to be one.
(to read Part 1 click here)