Thursday, September 07, 2006

Giving back

It is a very great gift, really, to allow oneself to be helped. Interestingly, what usually happens is that the person who was helped is then moved to help others in return. Here's a story about that as told by Mother Teresa:
For some time now, we have had a small community of sisters in Guatemala. We came there during the earthquake of 1972 that caused so much damage.

The sisters in Guatemala came to love and serve, as they do everywhere, They told me something beautiful about a very poor man who was picked up from the city streets and brought to one of our homes. He was very sick, disabled, hungry, and helpless. But somehow, with the help he received he got well again.

He told the sisters, "I want to go and leave this bed for somebody else who may need it as much as I needed it when I came here."

Now he has a job. I don't think he earns much, but he is working. Every time he gets a little money, he remembers the other disabled people who are in the home and comes to see them. He always brings something for them. Even with the little he has, he always brings something.

This is the great gift of our poor people: the love they have.
I don't happen to see a much material poverty in my work with people but I see a lot of emotional and spiritual poverty. And I know that cultivating compassion - first for oneself and then for others - is the remedy. Cultivating this compassion begins with the willingness and the humility to receive the help that is needed. Only then are we equipped to pass it on.

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