September 10, 1946, is the day Mother Teresa referred to as her Inspiration Day.
While riding a train en route to her annual retreat in the mountains, “at some unknown point along the way, there in the depths of Mother Teresa’s soul, the heavens opened…. She was graced with an overwhelming experience of God—an experience of such intense ‘light and love’ as she would later describe it, that by the time her train pulled into the station at Darjeeling, she was no longer the same. Though no one knew it at the time, Sister Teresa had just become Mother Teresa” (from Mother Teresa’s Secret Fire by Joseph Langsford).
Isn’t it remarkable that she only had one such vision—or vivid experience? And she received it with such absolute humility that she became an instrument of that love and light even to distressed people living in Calcutta’s dark shadows. More than that, she was able to continue being an instrument of light while living through many years of personal darkness.
I’ve never had such a vivid experience as Mother Teresa had, yet I do get glimpses of God.
Julian of Norwich said that “seeking is as good as seeing,” and I’m sure she’s right. It also seems that the more I look for the face of our Creator behind his Creation, the more I’m able to see.
Thirty-three years ago, while I was doing my student teaching in Chicago, one of my supervising teachers by the name of Marie Stone wrote these three words on the blackboard: “To see, look.”
To see light, look to the Light. Langsford says, “We will all need to find other sources of happiness, purpose, and fulfillment, beyond possessions and ease and protecting the status quo. In the end, the very process of our aging will itself frame the geography of our personal Calcutta.” What a transformative way to think about aging and challenge ourselves to face it nobly! When people asked Mother Teresa what they could do with their lives, she would remind them that she began by simply helping the first needy person she came across. “Just begin,” she said. “One, one, one. Begin by saying something good to the person you live with. Begin by helping someone in need. Begin by making whatever you do something beautiful for God.”
Today is Inspiration Day. Let’s make of it something beautiful for God.