The atmosphere was electric. As I stood in St. Peter’s Square listening to Pope Francis pronounce Mother Theresa a Saint, I had goosebumps and tears in my eyes. My family was lucky to be witnessing this special moment, more so because of the influence Mother Teresa has always had in my life.
Those ‘ripples’ she talks about in the quote above, well one of them was me.
Let me tell you my story.
How Mother Teresa Helped Me to Discover My Joy
I must have been about six when I first met Mother Teresa and visited Sishu Bhavan in Calcutta. Though the memory is now clouded, the visit left a big impression and I was drawn back frequently. Initially I would beg my parents to take me back there whenever we transited through Calcutta. As I grew older and we moved around, we always found a Mother Teresa children’s home close by to visit. The habit continued even when I left home to join university.
You see, the big attraction was the babies. I’d been born with an inherent gene that made me hopelessly madly in love with babies. I could spend hours helping feed and carry them. My heart would bleed to think that they were abandoned and if I thought I could have gotten away with it, I would have happily smuggled some of them home. But of course I knew I couldn’t. Instead I decided that as soon as I could, I would adopt a baby.
Although initially it was all about the babies, Mother Teresa’s example of selfless love and service touched my family greatly. My parents themselves were altruistic and we grew up watching, learning and soon practising ourselves, just how to live our faith and give back to the community with our time or whatever other resources we had to share.
Well, I grew up, like most little girls do. Many other childhood dreams and ambitions were forgotten, but this one desire kept burning bright. In my final year of university, I met my prince charming and quite soon into our relationship I dragged him one Saturday afternoon to spend time with the babies.
He was a trooper. He got that this was a big deal to me. Over the next few years we talked about adoption a lot. He listened patiently, asked questions and brought up concerns. But my battle plans were drawn and I was well prepared with facts and testimonies. To be honest though, he didn’t need much convincing.
We made a pact. We would have biological children, and adopt one too.
We had our first child a year after getting married. Parenthood was amazing and we treasured each milestone. When our daughter was four, we began the paperwork for adoption and the wait began for our second child. Many of our friends asked, “But why, when you have your own?” We just smiled and just said “Because we want to”.
And so, at 28, my lifelong dream came true and Ryeika Teresa, all of two months old, came into our hearts and lives. As I held her that first time, the tears flowed freely. We were so blessed. Her name Ryeika means ‘unique’ and ‘Teresa’ is for the little bent lady in the blue and white sari, who held and cared for hundreds of babies in her arms.
In the next couple of years we went on to have two more biological children and today I am the proud mother of four girls.
That ‘Ripple of Water’
I have read some disheartening articles recently, criticising Mother Teresa. While some of her practices and her dogma could be perceived as harsh, the simple truth is that she did do a lot of good. She helped the dying, set up hospitals and schools, and built safe havens for babies of women who, because of poverty or other circumstances had to leave their children at her doorstep.
I have met so many of her nuns from around the world; brilliant, well educated, women, who could have had great careers and the world at their feet. But instead they chose to wear the blue and white and go about their duties with cheerfulness and pride.
So perhaps, more than the charity and selfless giving that Mother Teresa did, what marks her for sainthood, is the influence she had on a plethora of people. People who, inspired by her example, were prompted to go out and make a difference. The ripples, some small, some big; but all so very significant.
Saint Teresa of Calcutta, you cast the stone across the waters. I’m so glad that one ripple touched me. You inspired me. You touched my life. Thank You.
(Sanchita calls herself a global nomad who loves writing about her experiences on life and love, parenting, travel and everything in between. As a working mother of four third culture kids, life is never quite dull. She presently lives in Rome, Italy.)
(This is a personal blog and the views expressed above are author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)