Thursday, August 30, 2007

Saint of a Jurl

I'm not the most informed individual. Somehow I never catch the news and I read fiction as opposed to newspapers. So it's the rare occasion that I stumble upon the news of the day and even rarer that some of that news catches my interest. This week I was bored and instead of reading E! On Line I decided to check out and came across the story about a new book detailing Mother Teresa's “crisis of faith”. Although I've always respected and viewed with awe the charity work performed by Mother Teresa, I never found her so interesting as I do today.

Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light is primarily a collection of letters from Mother Teresa to her confessors and superiors and within this correspondence is an all too human lament- I long for God and despair his absence. In one letter she writes to a spiritual confidant, "Jesus has a very special love for you, as for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great, that I look and do not see, — Listen and do not hear — the tongue moves [in prayer] but does not speak ... I want you to pray for me — that I let Him have [a] free hand." She wrote these words 11 weeks before receiving the Nobel Peace Prize and expressing to the world the need for Christ's love and His sacrifice.

I can't stop thinking about Mother Teresa. How can someone be so devoted to the Lord yet not feel His presence in her life? I feel His presence in making it through a traffic light before it turns red and I'm the polar opposite of Mother Teresa. Of course, when you are working amongst the poorest in the world it may be a little harder to keep a grasp on the belief that God is with you. It’s probably a lot easier for me to sense God in silly things like green lights because compared to so many, my life has been without tragedy and absurdly easy. If I were working with the hungry, sick children of third world countries I might note His absence rather than his presence.

At first is seems so incongruous that such a superior servant of God would walk through this world feeling alone and without His favor. But, perhaps this plague of doubt was Mother Teresa's burden to bear in this life. Perhaps this was her imperfection.

Most everyone has some personal battle, some human frailty and Mother Teresa was no different. It is this perceived weakness of faith that makes her work all the more extraordinary and selfless. When you know someone who seems perfect in every way don't you tend to give them less credit for any success or generosity because it seems easier for them? I do. I also find them far less interesting. It’s when a person does what they’d rather not, gives what they do not have, that true sacrifice is made. Mother Teresa gave God to countless people though she might not have felt Him hers to give.

Of course even without this new revelation of Mother Teresa's spiritual struggle she was a remarkable human being, deserving of admiration and unending praise. But, with this insight into her private heartache she becomes, for me, a miracle of faith and humanity.

Some will say her "crisis of faith" is evidence that there is no God, but for me it is further proof of the Divine. That a tiny woman from Macedonia can impact millions during her life and even in death continues to touch the heart of so many- even a non-catholic, cranky jurl in Dallas, Texas- is nothing short of miraculous. I am inspired by her humanity and my faith is strengthened. Check out the story and perhaps yours will be too.

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