Once long ago I yearned to help people. I discerned that most people in my community were receiving some sort of
money or assistance from the government, but very little personal help of a kind nature. I lived by myself and had
no one to care for.
... the 18 of us were classified as “semi-independent”
I had previously lived in a group home and there were case managers and counselors and staff that could teach
you to clean and cook, but nothing in the way of direct help of a personal nature. There was supervision, but
the 18 of us were classified as “semi-independent” so we were expected to care pretty much for ourselves.
In my new setting in my apartment, things were different. I was by myself. I was a little lonely and wanted to
help people the way I had read the great saints had done.
I struck out
So one day I gathered band-aids and gauze from my bathroom, along with slices of bread from my kitchen.
My feeble attempt was to help the sick and the hungry. I did not know if I would find anyone to help. I
struck out, equipped with some bare necessities of helping. I walked up and down the highway, looking
for someone who needed a wound dressed or needed a meal to eat. I wandered for an hour, but found no one.
The cars sped by, full of drivers and passengers, but no one stopped to avail themselves of my gifts.
Finally, discouraged, I found a flock of crows. I fed the crows what little bread I had carried with me. They
ate ravenously. I was uplifted. In fact I was elated.
I was gracious
I went back to my apartment and decided to write to Mother Teresa of Calcutta and tell her exactly what
had happened. I did not spare any part of the story — I told her everyone was on government assistance
or welfare and did not need my help. I told her exactly what I have related to you, and I ended explaining
that I had graciously fed the birds.
Her sisters wrote a form letter back to me, and Mother herself signed it.
This is what it said:
MISSIONARIES OF CHARITY
54 A, A.I.C. BOSE ROAD
CALCUTTA 700016 INDIA
DEAR Mr. Stephen Saunders
Thank you very much for your letter.
May God reward your generous desire
to love Him in His poor. Pray much
and Jesus will tell you, if you listen
to Him in Silence, what He want of
you. He asks of us not to do big thing
-s, but to do little things with great
love; even a smile can do much to
those who are lonely, unwanted and have
no one to call their own.
Let us pray.
GOD BLESS YOU.
M Teresa M.C. (in her hand)
(Reverse side of letter)
Mary, Mother of Jesus,
give me your heart, so
beautiful, so pure, so
Immaculate, so full of love
and humility that I may
be able to receive Jesus
in the Bread of Life, love
Him as you loved Him and
serve Him in the distressing
disguise of the Poorest
of the Poor
So there it is, a simple letter from a simple-minded heart on a “simple path”. But you may ask, what is
this doing in a blog on Long Term Economy? Mine is a spiritual message; does it have a place in this
… there is a “fundamental option” in life ...
In actuality there is a “fundamental option” in life — but people define this in different ways.
It may mean being spiritual vs. being religious to some. To others it may mean being religious vs.
being in business. It could also mean being ethical vs. being unethical, or moral vs. immoral. For
my intent, we do have a place in this blog for social activists and humanitarians. But no specific
principle relating to politics or religion. I offer only one of many possible alternatives to these
activities, beliefs, and principles. If I have offended some, I offer my apologies. I personally believe
that spiritual beliefs go hand-in-hand with other ways of life; for example, it has been said that God
loves diversity. This is an indication that both the religious person and the humanitarian are
good ways. I will leave you to seek the best answer you can find.
When we consider long term thinking, we may refer to research and theory. The Her m a n n
Brain Dominance Instrument is one such theory. He considers thinking to fall into one of
four modes. The fourth, of interest to us, is Imaginative thinking.
Key words : Visual, holistic, intuitive, innovative, and conceptual.
Preferred activities : Looking at the big picture, taking initiative,
challenging assumptions, visuals, metaphoric thinking,
creative problem solving, long term thinking.
The letter above is just a glimpse of a certain way. If you don’t have a good way, you need to find one.
Here we are talking lifestyle. But it is also a glimpse of thinking style. Certainly Mother was an imaginative
thinker because she looked at the big picture and challenged the assumptions of many. She used creativity,
but not at the cost of fidelity. Moreover, in her letter she wants us (and those we meet) to be happy. To
say that she is a long term thinker is a bit of a stretch. Her letter is one of discernment; trying to help
another believer see what God wants. I am no expert on discernment, but I know it can take a lifetime.
She was trying to help me see. She was rooted in the here and now, and not necessarily the future.
Her letter reflects that. Long term thinking and specifically sustainability is sometimes called
“far-fetched”. That is only because it remains theoretical. [Steven T r e e s e] But is long term thinking
fanciful? That would be a good starter topic for another article.
I am sure that Mother would want us to use long term thinking because she knew that God gave us all
our faculties, including LT thought. Her m a n n knew that too. So have a good lifestyle and think good
thoughts, and by all means, discern your way. If you can make use of LT thought, you may want to
make that your priority. Thank you for reading!
A simple path
Book by Mother Teresa
92% liked this book
Description: In A Simple Path, Saint Teresa, senior members of the Missionaries of Charity and volunteers
at their homes around the world offer their advice and long experience of how we can practice a fuller
love for each other, help those less fortunate than ourselves and find peace in doing so. … Google Books
Originally published: 1995
Author: Mother Teresa
Genres: Biography, Christian literature