Conversations For Transformation: Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

Conversations For Transformation

Essays By Laurence Platt

Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

And More

Crisis Of Faith

Calistoga, California, USA

September 3, 2007

"Jesus has a very special love for you. As for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great. I look and do not see, listen and do not hear." ... Mother Teresa* to Reverend Michael van der Peet - September 1979

This essay, Crisis Of Faith, is the companion piece to
  1. Love And Kindness
  2. Transformation And Medication
  3. When God Disappears
in that order.

It is also the fourth in a group of twenty reflections of God: I am indebted to Mother Teresa who inspired this conversation, and to James "Jim" Tsutsui who contributed material.

Mother Teresa's years and years and years of selfless service to the orphans and the poor in Calcutta is beyond extraordinary. It's legendary. She stands, above all, as a beacon, as the  example of charity and compassion, as a model believer in Jesus Christ.

Mother Teresa
She continues her mission even while, by her own ad-mission, not sensing Jesus' presence during the latter decades. Even though she believes in  Jesus ongoingly, she says doesn't sense Jesus' presence. It's missing for her. Yet throughout her crisis of faith  she continues, tirelessly driven. And if (by her own admission) Jesus her partner is missing, by definition she also continues alone. Yet she never flinches from keeping her promise to serve.

I totally get her spiritual heroism. I'm awed by it. It ... blows  ... me  ... away  ...

At this point in her play, my conjecture is the Bible has exited center stage, and I'm intrigued by wondering what would happen if Werner then entered stage right. I wonder what she'd say to Werner. I wonder what she'd ask him.

I'm not Mother Teresa. But if I were in her quandary, the first question I'd ask him is "If Jesus' presence isn't  here, then what (or who's)  presence is  here?".

The second question I'd ask him is "Is there really  something missing? Or is it just me creating the experience  there's something missing?".

Mother Teresa lives in possibility. That much is evident. It doesn't require convincing. She doesn't merely invent  the possibility of being loving, kind, and caring to all human beings: she personifies  the possibility of being loving, kind, and caring to all human beings. She's that possibility incarnate. If I could speak for Mother Teresa, if I could guess her intention simply from what I know about her and her work, I would say Mother Teresa's impossible promise  could be something like this:

"By the year 2020 all people will be adequately fed, clothed, and housed, will have access to health care and education, and will experience the joy of the very special love of Jesus Christ."

In her crisis of faith, even while grounded in possibility to a degree which calls for immediate beatification, Mother Teresa demonstrates something so essentially human it moves me to tears. She's grappling with who she really is  as context, as being, as pure naked presence, as "everythingnothing". That such a titanic presence of love as Mother Teresa should have the guts to tell the truth about her disappointment with her intimate, private, most cherished experience, is nothing short of saintly. It's inspiring. It literally creates the space  for everyone to look at and to grapple with who we really are, for everyone to be in the conversation for transformation.

Who knows if Mother Teresa will once again sense Jesus' presence? Only she and time will tell. What's possible, however, is during her inquiry with Werner, Mother Teresa will recontextualize  who she considers herself to be and who she considers Jesus to be. Out of recontextualization in the conversation for transformation, miracles occur.

* * *

At the completion of her inquiry, what would Mother Teresa say to Werner? In my view of it, she would suddenly burst out laughing, a happy twinkling belly laugh, embrace Werner and say to him:

"I got it. So what?!"

And then she'd get on the next flight back to Calcutta and continue, with renewed zest, her legendary mission in service to the orphans and the poor, complete and ecstatic, relentlessly creating the space in which Jesus Christ and God can show up.

* Mother Teresa died on Friday September 5, 1997 aged eighty seven. This essay speaks in present tense as an implement of artistic expression for impact.

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