Mother Teresa and My Lenten Journey

I was raised in the Catholic Church and I am still a practicing Catholic.  Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, which for me is one of the most holy and moving days of the year.  For about 15 years, I have been compelled to use the 40 days of Lent as a time not to give up something as some kind of false sacrifice, knowing I would go back to it after Easter, but as a time of searching my soul.  At mass yesterday, the priest’s homily was “Repent. Rend your heart and find joy in the gospel.” Short. Powerful, powerful words.  Rend your heart.  Tear it open and find your flaws and throw them out.  Make room for the goodness of God.  I like to think that I am not an overly religious person, but more of a spiritual person – clinging more to the spirit of God than to the doctrine of the Catholic religion.  But the importance placed on Lent is one thing that I am very aligned to in Catholicism.

A friend posted this on Facebook yesterday as something to focus on during Lent.  It is a poem painted on the wall of Mother Teresa’s orphanage in Calcutta.  This version is attributed to her, but is based on an earlier composition by Kent Keith.

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.  Forgive them anyway.

            If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.  Be kind anyway.

            If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.  Succeed anyway.

            If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.  Be honest and sincere anyway.

            What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.  Create anyway.

            If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.  Be happy anyway.

            The good you do today, will often be forgotten.  Do good anyway.

            Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.  Give your best anyway.

            In the final analysis, it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway.

And so, my friends, my goal in my Lenten journey this year is to do good.  To rend my heart, clean out the bad, repent, and let in the good news of God.  This is not the first year I have done this.  One of the most difficult things I have ever encountered is my relationship with my mother-in-law.  She has not always been a nice person – to me, to my husband, to my children.  She has been spiteful and intentionally hurtful in her words and actions.  Several years ago, it was my Lenten Journey to forgive her.  It has changed my life and my relationship with her.  It has gone far beyond the 40 days of Lent that year.  So this year, I will be working on myself – working on my own health so that I can be a better wife and mother, working on my own thoughts and actions so that I can be a force for good in the world.

I apologize to those who find this post preachy and overly religious.  But this is what is on my mind and in my heart.  I cannot apologize for that.  My hope is to perhaps inspire one person to consider the words above and make the journey with me to be a force for good.

Semi-Cross, ink on paper