In the third chapter of Shane Claiborne’s book The Irresistible Revolution, he talks about his journey to Calcutta. He went on a quest to find a true Christian and his search lead him to writing Mamma T, aka Mother Teresa. A women who dedicated her life to living amongst the poorest of the poor and truly living out God’s love. After a couple of months holding and interacting with children at the train station, bandaging wounds, bathing and feeding men at Khalighat, staying at the leper colony at the end of his stay, he went back to the states. He had not only seen Christ in Mamma T’s love for the dying and destitute people of Calcutta, but in the lepers and others he met along the journey.
I’ve only read to chapter 4 of the book, but there was something good about reading about his journey to Calcutta. He talked about how Mama T said to just come and experience, how he stayed in a hostile across the street from where the nuns lived, how land had been given to the leper colony along the train tracks because whoever owned it saw no developmental worth.
If you’ve volunteered at Missionaries of Charity, you know how it is on your first day to be blown away by what you see and the necessity of staying for awhile to really be able to process the depth of the experience. You’ve met volunteers who stay in the hostile next to the Mother House. Shane talked about a guy named Andy from Germany who had chosen to sell everything and had lived in Calcutta for over 10 years living a life of service (this makes me think of Chris and his beautiful soul). If you were able to do one of the 1st or 3rd Thursday of the month tours to the leper colony, you were able to see the beauty of the blooms on the trees, the veggie garden, the fish ponds, see the families, the men and women making sari’s, and no one can forget the crazy train to the city. On the way back, I had one foot in and one hand holding on and I was seriously scared I was going to die a horrible death if anyone decided to do a little pushing. You know what I’m talking about…
It’s funny how when you tell people that you went overseas to help others how they react. The usual responses are a mixture of “oh, wow! You are amazing!” and “Man, I could never do that” which is one reason why talking about India makes me nervous. I’m not amazing- I’m an ordinary young woman who is living out the desires God has placed in her heart. You might think you might not be able to do the same exact thing, and you are right. You would have your own profound experience shaped by the people you interact with and how willing you are to break for others.
“While the temptation to do great things is always before us, in Khalighat I learned the discipline of doing small thing with great deliberation. Mother Teresa used to say, ‘We can do no great things, just small things with great love. It is not how much you do, but how much love you put into doing it.'”( pg 78)
You don’t have to have a college degree to know how to love others. You don’t have to be artsy to paint toenails and have the women smile with glee at the bright pink. You don’t have to be a parent to play with a kid and have them feel like someone cares. You don’t have to go overseas to help people in poverty (although it takes some of us an intense experience away to learn about ourselves and our world at home). Each of us are capable of helping others- it starts with doing small things with great deliberation.
“Calcuttas are everywhere if only we have eyes to see. Find your Calcutta.” (Mamma T, pg 89)