Saturday, August 25, 2007

Abandonment, surrender, letting be

Recent revelations that Blessed Teresa of Calcutta endured a long period, lasting most of her life after her summons to serve the poor, of seeming divine abandonment that caused her to doubt at times, are nothing new. This became public knowledge shortly after her death. Besides, anybody who has read St. Thérèse of Lisieux's autobiography, The Story of a Soul, will have at least a general understanding, a framework within which to make some sense of what Blessed Teresa experienced and endured. Nonetheless, the media and various commentators are having a heyday with these revelations now that they have been published in a forthcoming book: Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light.

It is not my purpose here to address or even comment on the deepest, most intimate recesses of the soul of this incredibly holy woman, except to write that knowing this makes her all the more holy in my eyes because it allows me to identify to some very small degree with this very Christ-like person. For Blessed Teresa it was never about her, but always about the other, especially the most neglected and despised. She poured our her entire life, her very self, for those who the world literally kicked to the curb like so much trash. Being like Christ means just this: dying to one's self and living for God by living for others. To think otherwise is fall prey to a horrible and spirtually debilitating deception.

It bears mentioning that sometimes abandonment to Divine Providence means, well, (at least seeming) abandonment by God. With due acknowledgement to Joseph A. Komonchak, who posted this poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins over on dotCommonweal, here is a poem on the matter. Hopkins, writes Komonchak, "suffered from dark nights, too, and wrote at least four poems while he was in the midst of them; they’re often called 'the Terrible Sonnets.' This is one of them, written, it seems, he was starting to come out of the dark":

My own heart let me more have pity on; let

Me live to my sad self hereafter kind,

Charitable; not live this tormented mind

With this tormenting mind tormenting yet.

I cast for comfort I can no more get

By groping around my comfortless, than blind

Eyes in their dark can day or thirst can find

Thirst’s all-in-all in all a world of wet.

Soul, self; come, poor Jackself, I do advise

You, jaded, let be; call off thoughts awhile

Elsewhere; leave comfort root-room; let joy size

At God knows when to God knows what; whose smile

‘s not wrung, see you; unforeseen times rather–as skies

Betweenpie mountains–lights a lovely mile.

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