Come Be My Light

I've been reading Come Be My Light - a sort of spiritual biography of Mother Teresa, based on her personal letters. These letters reveal that despite a dramatic call from God to ministry in Calcutta, Mother Teresa abruptly ceased to feel his presence when she arrived, and conducted the rest of her life in spiritual darkness and sorrow. (An article in Time offers more details. Via Michigan.)

I found the book less challenging and inspiring than I'd hoped - I am so unlike Mother Teresa that I scarcely believe we're of the same species, and I could no more love like her than write like Shakespeare. And while she and I have both experienced disappointment with God, hers was vastly different in content, degree and duration. The book is interesting (if a bit slow-moving) and has certainly increased my respect - nay, awe - of Mother Teresa, but at the expense of any hope I had of relating or empathizing with her.

More than ever I understand the impulse to pray to saints. Mother Teresa reached a peace about her inner darkness and saw her suffering as a means for God to bring others to salvation. On the back cover is this quote: "If I ever become a Saint--I will surely be one of 'darkness.' I will continually be absent from Heaven--to light the light of those in darkness on earth."

It reminded me of the Buddhist idea of a Bodhisattva: a person who achieves enlightenment (Buddhahood) but who refrains from entering Nirvana indefinitely in order to free others from suffering. (It also reminds me of the first verses of Romans 9, my least favorite chapter in the Bible, in which Paul makes a statement so powerful and so beautiful that I almost forgive him the rest.) Greater love, I contend, has no one than this.

I said earlier that I can hardly believe I'm of the same species as Mother Teresa. But I am, and that's the whole point. She was no angel-messenger come down from heaven. No god among mortals, no Word-made-flesh. She was a woman. A mortal like myself, and a sinner. However different she was in her character, experiences and actions, we are somehow of the same essence, and I feel a kinship with her that I could have with no higher being. Transcendent in love and holiness, she is near to me yet in her frailty and finitude.

Pray for me, Mother. Saint of Darkness, be my light.

3 comments:

Filth- Man said...

You got me thinking about high-level sports, and how most people, no matter how hard they try, are just not good enough to compete at a world championship, professional leagues, etc. They simply don't have the God-given talent. I wonder if the same applies to people like Mother Theresa, or Ghandi, or Martin Luther King: they have God-given talents (in the area of piety, spirituality, love, longsuffering, whatever) that the rest of us don't... A sort of overload in spiritual gifts, if you will. They really are "better" than the rest of us.

Either that or all of us have the potential to be a mother Theresa figure in the world, and most of us are wasting our lives being average. How depressing.

Jacob said...

I definitely think some of us are more capable of loving, etc. than others. If there's one thing I'm sure of in this world, it's that nothing is fair and equal.

Good thing, too. Otherwise it would be pretty easy to judge my brother who loves less than I do.

creatorschilde said...

Yes, I still read this regularly, Jacob, and enjoy it. I now have a blog of my own that Im trying to build up, and I just have to ask you - who did/how did you do your template? Im really looking for something thats a little better than the usual and I have a few pictures Id like to use, but...

In anycase, please, email me back.
Thank You