Sunday, October 28, 2007

All Saints Sermon? Mother Teresa's dark night

thinking abt a sermon for All saints... thinking abt the way popular culture "canonizes" people like Princess Diana & Mother Teresa.Like some of the other commentators, I have been put off by the latter's conventional piety and submissiveness... but more drawn to her since the revelation re her doubt and interior bleakness.
How can God be anything but "absent"? I mean, Jesus was present with the disciples in Galilee, but only for a few years. His real accomplishments only began when he absented himself from the world and left the over-dependent disciples to finally grow up. I'm sure his absence was difficult for them, since they were used to being able to come whining to him over every little thing. But the odd thing about Christianity is the way that "absence" became a new sort of "presence", still vulnerable, still incarnate, and still strangely authoritative.
Maybe Teresa was too close to God. Maybe the God she experienced was so wounded, so crucified, that it precluded any joy, any experience of resurrection. Maybe she was really pissed off about all the suffering she saw in the world, but was too constrained by conventional piety to ventilate. I wonder of her spiritual directors ever urged her to dwell upon psalms such as 44 & others that criticize God in some graphic ways. She might have found some spiritual solidarity with Sudanese Christian women described by Marc Nikkel in WHY HAVEN'T YOU LEFT YET?, women who , in effect, stage protest rallies against (and, paradoxically, alongside) God. The "protest rallies" are prayer services, but they freely express people's anger about watching their children starve in refugee camps. Mother Teresa might have benefited from knowing some women like that.
Maybe she was so close to God she couldn't see God, like trying to see your own eyeball. Maybe she was too busy "being Christ" to see Christ. Anyway, it's too bad she didn't have more fun.
If religion is never fun, it gets depressing. Did she ever see , or enjoy, the irony in her own situation? Maybe that is something we can do for her. Maybe from her present vantage-point she will appreciate it and pray for us, or at least not get too pissed off.