August 26, 1910 an amazing woman was born in Macedonia. A woman who’s legacy would live on long beyond the departure of her mortal form from this earth. Mother Teresa left her physical body in 1997, but her legacy lives on and on her birth date, we are inspired worldwide, to act with charity and kindness on her behalf.
Sometimes, when we look at our own lives we think we can never be as great as someone ‘like Mother Teresa’ – making ourselves small in comparison, because we have not sojourned to another land to do ‘great’ things. But there are many other ways to be great. How can we somehow emulate this beautiful woman and all she did for humanity, without taking the journey to foreign soil? Or perhaps better asked, how can we step onto ‘another land’ within our own, and serve our fellow humans with compassion and love, even in small ways?
I saw some friends the other day, who journeyed into downtown Portland, Oregon with fruit to hand out to those without food, living on the streets. I understand they invited the few who felt of the highest mind and most receptive, back to their home for showers and food. In the end, clothing was distributed and care greatly taken before the visitors left back to their ‘unknown’ life on the streets. It didn’t take a lot of effort on their part, just heart. Mother Teresa offered this service every day, she dedicated her life to it.
It was only in the face of suffering did this woman find her calling, to assist those who would be otherwise turned away. She cared for orphans, the sick, elderly and lepers. Those who the hospitals would not take and were left for dead, she cared for and gave comfort to in their final hours. When was the last time one of us stopped to give love, even through our gaze, to one who had less than we?
I was walking downtown recently and observed an interesting scene. Those who many would call ‘homeless’ were sitting on and around park benches making music. One had a guitar and was singing beautifully. The others were singing along, snapping fingers and tapping benches and the like to make the sound of drums. It was harmonic and joyous to observe, I wanted to jump in, but instead I watched from across the way. Several ‘business’ looking people walked through the crowd of ‘dirty’ musicians, and on the other side of the rhythmic tunnel, they burst out laughing in the spirit of mockery. I was baffled and somewhat amused. What was the cause of these women’s laughter? Was it the unsightly appearance of the band? The lyrics full of love and kinship? Their embarrassment for not being able to ‘get down’ with the music? What?
Mother Teresa has long been seen as a great woman, a saint even. How many would ‘do as she did’ and reach a hand out to those who appear to need it? Or snap our fingers to the beat of another’s drum in the name of unity and connection? Can we heal the planet from sickness, poverty and loneliness if each one of us remains unwilling to reach out a hand to a stranger? There are so many obligations, jobs and demands on all of us from day to day – though how many of these things are worth more than the life and happiness of a fellow human?
In the face of challenges and obstacles in a wild and foreign land, this woman wrapped her arms around humanity in ecstatic devotion to a higher power that one can only describe as transcendental. She went beyond the confines of human understanding in her ability to give, love and serve without question or remorse. She accepted charitable contributions from those of “questionable status” believing that “everyone had a right to give.”
On Mother Teresa’s birthday, can we celebrate her spirit of service by reaching out a hand to those who need us? Can the day of Mother Teresa’s birth become a symbol, an inspiration and even a catalyst for charity projects worldwide? It starts with each one of us choosing to say ‘yes.’ Even a knock on your neighbors door may reveal an opportunity for you to be of service. Let us make August the 26th a day of service, charity and hope for everyone. A feeling which infects the entire global community with the spirit of kindness and unity. May we find the Mother Teresa inside our hearts today.
Written by: Stasia Bliss