This evening, I scheduled a few hours of "down time" for me to rest and recuperate after a very busy and emotionally turbulent weekend. Part of my R&R included reading a fascinating article from TIME magazine on the spiritual life of Mother Teresa. The article is based upon the collection of Teresa's correspondance with her confessors and superiors over a period of 66 years, called Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light, edited by Rev. Brian Kolodiejchuk.
Through the publication of Teresa's private letters, the book reveals that the saint of Calcutta struggled with a "dark night of the soul" for the majority of her life. Although she served Christ faithfully and sacrificially, teaching others to do the same, Teresa came to call her beloved Savior, "the Absent One," and her times of seeking God, "darkness," "dryness," "loneliness," and "torture." What follows is an excerpt of one letter provided by the article in TIME:
Lord, my God, who am I that You should forsake me?
The Child of your Love — and now become as the most hated one —
the one — You have thrown away as unwanted — unloved.
I call, I cling, I want — and there is no One to answer —
no One on Whom I can cling — no, No One. — Alone ...
Where is my Faith — even deep down right in there is nothing, but emptiness & darkness —
My God — how painful is this unknown pain — I have no Faith —
I dare not utter the words & thoughts that crowd in my heart — & make me suffer untold agony.
So many unanswered questions live within me afraid to uncover them —
because of the blasphemy — If there be God — please forgive me —
When I try to raise my thoughts to Heaven —
there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives & hurt my very soul.
I am told God loves me — and yet the reality of darkness & coldness & emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul.
Did I make a mistake in surrendering blindly to the Call of the Sacred Heart?
(Mother Teresa, note addressed to Jesus, undated)
Although many will surely be ruffled by this revelation, I find myself comforted in the knowledge of Teresa's struggle. She is only one of innumerable people of God who struggle with intense doubts and feelings of abandonment by God. Moreover, her cries echo the desperate question of our Lord: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
I look forward to reading the book. For tonight, I find myself even more amazed with the God who chose to empower a little, doubting, pained woman from Calcutta in order to share Christ's love with the world.