― Mother Teresa
Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu was born in Skopje, Macedonia on August 27, 1910. In Yugoslavian, Gonxha means 'Little Flower.' This 'Little Flower' began her official walk of service at the age of 18. She joined the Loreto Sisters of Dublin, and then traveled to Ireland in 1928. In 1931, she chose her given name to be Teresa in honor of St. Teresa of Avila and St. Theresa of Lisieux. She began her early work teaching history and geography. After 15 years of being in the school settings, she received her 'second calling' in 1946 as she traveled to Darjeeling for a retreat. Over the next two years she followed God's direction to minister to the people in the slums and to 'serve the poorest of the poor.' During this time she took a nursing course and was released from her official order in order to be an independent nun. In 1948 she returned to Calcutta to begin her mission and follow the urgings of spirit. She worked in Calcutta right up until her death in 1997.
This beautiful woman dedicated 69 years of service to others. In 1979 she won the Nobel Peace Prize, while also receiving various other accolades. As I leafed through Wall Street Journal weekend edition I found an article about another one of her life's works and this was building a religious order. As I scanned the article, it highlighted that she had started the Missionaries of Charity with only 12 followers in 1950, and the current numbers come in at 5,600. These folks are running hospices, homeless shelters, and centers for the mentally ill. She has created a presence in 139 countries. Her attorney Jim Towey shared that she created this from nothing. She implemented practices that were both spiritual and practical. A model that even State movements and non-profits are envious of.
As I read further I was struck by one of the practices in particular. All member's possessions were to fit into one box. As I sit writing this, I scan my office and see the remnants of my life scattered about. This is just one room of my life. Some of my most treasured possessions fill the walls of this room...books are strewn on the shelves and pictures decorate the alcoves. It seems somewhat absurd to fit life into one box, but in another sense; what a relief to not be attached to 'Earthly' things.
There are so many ways that Saint Teresa's life can be used as an inspiration in our own lives. Her prayerful devotion to God. Her willingness to dedicate her life to the service of others. Her pledge to share love with all. Aren't these principles that we could all incorporate into our lives? One of my favorite quotes by her is, "There are no great things, only small things with great love. Happy are those."
May we all be inspired, reignited, and animated to live out the love and passion that is contained uniquely within each of our hearts. May our lives be full of service, and may our love overflow into the world!
May You Sweetly Seek:)