A while back I attended a lecture at my Church given by a cardiologist and professor from Notre Dame University in Indiana. This man had impressive credentials for sure, but the crowd hadn’t gathered to hear him speak because of his accomplishments in medicine and education. We were all there because at one time this man had worked side by side with Mother Teresa, that tiny woman who possessed no fancy degrees or titles, only a great big loving heart and the desire to serve others. He shared with us all sorts of stories about Mother Teresa.
After attending this lecture I found myself running into Mother Teresa everywhere I went – not in person of course, but in books and articles telling even more stories about her life and work. Being a spiritual person myself, I figured this had to mean something. I decided Mother Teresa must be trying to get through to me because she knew I reach out to lots of people through my writing and she must have had a few ideas she wanted to share with me, ideas that I then would share with you.
Here’s one of those ideas.
“I do not agree with the big way of doing things. What matters is the individual. To get to love a person, we must come into close contact with them. If we wait until we get the numbers, then we will be lost in the numbers and we will never be able to show that love and respect for the person.”
“What do these words mean to you? To me, an avid letter writer, these words reinforce the value of writing letters one at a time to one person at a time. There are ways to address many people at once – Facebook for one thing – and I like Facebook, but Facebook lacks intimacy, the sort of intimacy a personal letter offers. Without intimacy we can never get beyond superficial relationships and to feel loved we need these deeper relationships.
The news is filled with stories of human suffering. People find themselves homeless because of war, natural disasters, or personal misfortune. Others are in need of food and clothing. They could be living across the world or in our own town. We want to help all these people but without big bags of money it seems we can do so little.
But Mother Teresa reminds us that,
“Nakedness is not only for a piece of cloth. Nakedness is for human dignity, for respect. Homelessness is not only for a home made of bricks. Homelessness is being rejected, unloved, uncared for, having forgotten what is human touch.”
When we write a personal letter to show we care about a home-bound, elderly, or sick person in the hospital, or to anyone lonely or grieving, we are helping to make the world a brighter place. We are relieving suffering just a little bit. We may not be able to do everything for everybody, but any little bit of kindness helps. I’m sure Mother Teresa would agree.
Another idea Mother Teresa shared with me, an idea that I want to share with you, is that thoughtfulness is the beginning of great sanctity. Webster defines sanctity as holiness and saintliness so it follows that when we write a thoughtful letter to someone, but especially when we write to those who are suffering in some way, we are on our way to becoming saints, and don’t you want to become a saint? I do.
Just remember, all our words will be useless unless they come from within. That’s not my advice. It comes straight from Mother Teresa. It’s important to be real when we speak to someone in person and when we write a letter as well. We must look into ourselves and share our true spirit, our true feelings, our dreams, faith, hope and ideas. All good letter writers reach deeply into themselves and share from this interior place.
My dear pen friend Vicki who hails from Iowa, puts it this way and I agree with her completely.
“My friendships through letters are often closer than those in person, for the process of writing seems to draw more private thoughts from a person.”
So, how do you love? Are you trying to make a big splash by doing monumental things? Well, good luck with that, but remember what worked for Mother Teresa. Her one-to-one approach might not have allowed her to treat millions herself, but she certainly had an impact on the world. By her actions she inspired others to carry on her work.
Mother Teresa was only one very small person, and so am I, and so are you, but we just might be able to accomplish more than we think. Her way was not in big things – but in small things done with great love. That should be our way too.
That letter you are about to write could make a huge difference in someone’s life – and in your own as well. Service to others can become quite addictive because it leaves us with such good feelings. That person we perk up can go on to perk up others, and a beautiful chain of events can be activated. We may never know the full extent of what our kind letters have accomplished until we get to heaven, but once there we’ll know and we’ll have to look up Mother Teresa there and tell her how she inspired us – not to fuss writing big things, but rather humble little letters filled with great love.
Every day can be Valentines Day if we write love letters.