By: Jenni Taylor
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
During my time in Kolkata, India I was able to visit the Mother House, where the Sisters of Charity carry on the work of Mother Teresa. The building itself is difficult to find, and unmarked except for a simple wooden door and a gold colored name plate on the side that reads Mother’s name. Two little boys had been sitting on the doorstep making paper airplanes as we waited for the door to be opened. I figured that happened when she was still around, too.
A sister, in the same blue and white sari that Mother Teresa was famous for wearing, led us quietly to the tomb. Other sisters were kneeling nearby and singing a hymn quietly together. A few women from the neighborhood passed back and forth through the open entry way, clearly on business. There weren’t many of us, but Indians, Westerners, and Europeans sat together in silence, listening to the hymn and looking at the tomb. It read, “Love one another as I have loved you”. Flower petals were placed carefully below, also reading, “love begins at home.”
A few minutes later we explored the tiny museum next door with some of Mother Teresa’s belongings and her life story. I stopped in front of one poster called “The Darkness.”
I’ve heard Mother Teresa’s name my whole life. I’ve even read a few of her books, mostly simple sermons on loving the poor and the spiritually needy. But somehow I had missed this important piece.
Basically, Mother Teresa wrote down her intense conversations with God, but she eventually reached a point where she could no longer feel him or hear him. She called this The Darkness, and Jesus was the Absent One.
Reading that felt like a rock in my heart. I know it sounds silly, but I wish she had still been there so I could give her a hug and let her know she wasn’t alone. I’ve been in the darkness before. I have a feeling I’m not alone in that either, but I hardly expected company such as Mother Teresa. Doubt is not something to mess with. It’s hard, it’s hurtful, it’s painful and it’s the loneliest place on earth.
I don’t have all the answers. Knowing one of the most famous Christian women on earth didn’t have all the answers either is simultaneously encouraging and scary as hell. But there’s something about faith.
If you are in The Darkness, good. It’s a process and it may hurt more than anything else has ever hurt you before. But stick it out. Don’t give up. Keep questioning and searching and pulling and reaching and live a life of love, even when that love feels so far away. God is there.
Maybe Mother Teresa couldn’t feel God for a while, but hearing the hymn of the other women who have given their lives to her and God’s work, he was there, he was multiplied, and the world was changed. If it comes down to a decision, faith or feeling, choose faith. I can’t promise anything, but I’m pretty sure you won’t regret it.