People are often unreasonable, illogical and self centered;
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.
You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God;
It was never between you and them anyway.
This is a look at one of the true heroines of our time, Mother Teresa. She was born in Macedonia in 1910, and felt guided to take her vows as a nun at age 21. She actually worked as a high school teacher of a private school until she felt another calling at the age of 38 to work with and serve the poor just outside the high and protective walls of the school in Calcutta. In her words, she wanted to help “the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, the lepers, all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society, people that have become a burden to the society and are shunned by everyone.” After getting permission to leave the school, she began an open-air school for slum children, and depended entirely on volunteer help and donations for her efforts, even to the point of begging for her own food. Two years later, the Catholic church allowed her to establish her own order, the Missionaries of Charity, which consisted of 12 nuns.
As contributions and volunteers continued in a steady stream, Mother Teresa was able to expand her missions and service to include what she called “the poorest of the poor.” In India, these were known as the untouchables, the people that were believed to be riddled with disease and death, and touching them at all was culturally wrong.
What makes Mother Teresa so different from so many of us was that societal stigmas didn’t dictate her actions, and certainly didn’t affect her love of all people everywhere. She did not care what religious, economic, educational or cultural background people were from – certainly not the typical Catholic stigma; she saw it as her job to love people as much as she believed God loved them, and saw in each of them “the face of Jesus.” She helped to feed and care for the lowliest of people that had all but been discarded as trash, and she did it without hesitation. She gave the gifts of comfort, humanity and dignity to people that believed themselves to be unworthy, and with a simple hug would often bring a person to immediate tears because they had forgotten the feel of human touch. She respected people’s religious backgrounds, and buried them according to their own religion, not hers. Mother Teresa encouraged people to “love until it hurts,” and when questioned about how she preached, she replied, “Preach at all times…and when necessary use words.” She was a true woman of action, and loved through serving others her whole life until she died at the age of 87 in 1997. She wanted no praise or fame for her efforts, only help to add to her efforts.
It was my childhood dream to meet this wonderful woman – now I’ll have to settle for visiting her mission site in Calcutta. She inspires me to love harder and give more – unconditionally – and to see each and every person as a loved creation. She truly put her love into action, and I hope I can look back on my own life with even a shadow of love for others as hers was.
Today the Missionaries of Charity consists of 4,500 sisters, tens of thousands of volunteers, and is active in 133 countries. They all vow to give “wholehearted and free service to the poorest of the poor.”
Some of my favorite quotes from Mother Teresa: