The Mother House
The journey to India is long…a total of 34 hours of airport security checkpoints, standing at gates and baggage claims and immigration lines, flights and naps stolen along the way. But it’s not just the miles covered and the hours spent. The soul journey is long too. I’ve been here less than 24 hours and already I know my heart is different. I’ve heard that India gets in your blood. To be quite honest, it was never on my “list” of places I’d have chosen if I had an open-ended airline ticket. But when the opportunity to accompany Keith on a Compassion International trip arose, I was excited to get to come along to see this land that has always seemed so far away that maybe it didn’t even exist except in stories and theory.
After breakfast, a long nap, and lunch, our group started the trip with a trip to the “Mother House” of the Missionaries of Charity, the order of nuns founded by Mother Teresa, now “Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.” I think I would have been contented to spend the whole day there…perhaps my whole trip. Despite being in the center of a crowded city with honking horns and too many people, a cloud of peace truly shrouds the whole structure. You enter and off a small courtyard are a series of doors: one to a small museum, one to a stairway to her room where she lived and received visitors, one to the chapel and one to a room where her tomb is. When we arrived, the novices were all gathered around Mother’s tomb singing hymns. I then wandered upstairs and spent a good deal of time praying in the chapel alongside several of the nuns whose calloused fingers easily slid from one bead to the next on their rosaries. After a short tour of the museum and peeking in Mother’s bedroom, I went back to the tomb room in time to catch the last half of a homily by Fr. John, an Indian priest.
On Friday we will be serving alongside the sisters in various capacities at homes and orphanages they have scattered across the city. Sister Mercy Maria briefed us on the work we will be doing. Her kind manner made me feel like I knew her and I loved hearing her share her story about answering the call to become a nun. “I resisted for a while,” she said after telling us she had joined at the age of 38, later than many of the sisters who joined as young as 17. “But in the end it was a simple as being in a relationship with someone and them asking me to do something and I said ‘yes’.” “Jesus simply asked me to follow him and I finally accepted. It was my call.”
I left the home inspired by the simplicity in which the sisters live, their devotion to prayer and service, the intensity with which they love, and the humility that abides in their spirits. I’ve been reading up on Mother Teresa the past few weeks in preparation for this trip and I’ll leave you with a passage that has caused me to pause and think about my own relationship with the Lord and how I approach my spiritual life.
“Does your mind and your heart go to Jesus as soon as you get up in the morning? This is prayer, that you turn your mind and heart to God. In your times of difficulties, in sorrows, in sufferings, in temptations, and in all things, where did your mind and heart turn first of all? How did you pray? Did you take the trouble to turn to Jesus and pray, or did you seek consolations?
Has your faith grown? If you do not pray, your faith will leave you.
Ask the Holy Spirit to pray in you. Learn to pray, love to pray, and pray often. Feel the need to pray and to want to pray.
If you have learned how to pray, then I am not afraid for you. If you know how to pray, then you will love prayer—–and if you love to pray, then you will pray. Knowledge will lead to love and love to service.”