"There is such terrible darkness within me, as if everything were dead. It has been like this more or less from the time I started the work." - Mother Teresa, 1953
Rev. Brian Kolodiejchuk is the director of the Mother Teresa Center and the driving force behind the efforts to canonize her. He's also publishing a collection of her letters that reveal a different Teresa than we've known. At times she refers to Jesus as "the Absent One" and her own smile "a mask." The good reverend argues that the depth of her spiritual sufferings increases her saintliness.
My dad told me about this over the weekend and Sunday's paper had a second page article on it. Dad had read my post on "The Way Things Are" and basically said, "John, you're not alone. Check out Mother Teresa."
"If there be God - please forgive me. When I try to raise my thoughts to Heaven, there is such convincing emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives and hurt my very soul...How painful this unknown pain - I have no faith."
Evidently, her dying wish was that these letters be destroyed, a wish that was not granted. Revelations like these throw a confusing light on the people we hold in high esteem. We thought they were this, but we find out they were that. The truth seems to be that we can be this and that, a "bundle of paradoxes," as Brennan Manning would say.
I believe "this" and "that" scares us though. We still hold up consistency as a paragon of the virtues. So-and-so always acts this way or candidate X always votes that way. Emerson said that a vain consistency is the hobgobblin of little minds. And maybe that's what our culture is - a bunch of little minds, always trying to be either this or that, when we all know, deep inside ourselves or deep within our private journals, that we're both. And maybe that's a good definition of a saint; someone who's a little of this and a little of that.