unsplash photo
unsplash photo
When my sons were growing up, two of their closest friends were young brothers who lived around the corner. One day, one of my youngest and his friend sat down on the curb next to each other laughing about something that was incredibly funny to five-year-olds.

The image was so striking I ran for my camera to take their picture. My son – fair-skinned with long white hair and sparkling blue eyes – had his arm around his friend – dark brown skin, tousled black hair and deep brown eyes – both enjoying every moment of their time together and grinning from ear to ear.

Both boys were being raised in faith-filled homes, though their religions were different. But, being young, they had reached beyond race, religion and culture to find meaning in their sameness as children of God.

How I hoped this image would someday be the image of the world they lived in, but so many years later, not much has improved. We have trouble understanding the love of God. Our love is often limited, conditional, doled out to those we feel deserve it.

We are hampered when we continue to immerse ourselves so deeply in the manufactured that we fail to immerse ourselves in the Mystery of God.

The result is an emptiness filled too often with doubt, fear and despair, instead of the courage and love that flows from communion with God.

Renowned educator, Maria Montessori, wrote, “There are two ‘faiths’ which can uphold humans: faith in God and faith in oneself. And these two faiths should exist side by side: the first belongs to one’s inner life, the second to one’s life in society.”

It’s a beautiful insight, I believe, about a state of heart and mind that helps us claim the value in ourselves and in our relationship with others, and encourages us to acknowledge that there is more to heaven and earth than we can see with our limited faculties.

Sometimes, we need a particular experience, a moment of awakening that brings us back to the source of it all – love. Only from this vantage point can we truly live our faith – in God, in life, in others and in ourselves, not just from the head, but deeply, from the heart.

St. Teresa of Calcutta had such a vantage point, with a profound understanding that God entered into the world in poverty, bereft of common comforts save the love of family. God continues to enter our world in this same way today.

The beloved saint once shared an experience of what she described as, “the most extraordinary experience of love of neighbor with a Hindu family.”

She recalled, “A gentleman came to our house and said: ‘Mother Teresa, there is a family who has not eaten for so long. Do something.’ So I took some rice and went there immediately. And I saw the children – their eyes shining with hunger … And the mother of the family took the rice I gave her and went out. When she came back, I asked her: ‘Where did you go? What did you do?’”

St. Teresa explained that the mother had shared the rice with a Muslim family, saying, “They are hungry, also.” 

“And there were those children, radiating joy, sharing the joy and peace with their mother because she had the love to give until it hurts,” said Mother Teresa, adding, “And you see this is where love begins – at home in the family.”

What shines through this story from Mother Teresa is a family, struggling with relentless poverty, which finds reason for joy and compassion because they are immersed in the Mystery of God.

Faith, as Martin Luther King, Jr., describes it “is the first step when you don’t see the whole staircase.”  It is this step that allows us to be fearless in loving one another.

Mary Clifford Morrell is the author of “Things My Father Taught Me About Love” and “Let Go and Live: Reclaiming your life by releasing your emotional clutter.”