Teacher of peace

by Lorraine Sims

The world mourned and celebrated the life of Mother Teresa when she passed away in September of 1997, at the age of 87. Shortly after her death, I felt compelled to watch a documentary about her life and work. One scene, in particular, fascinated me because it epitomized her love for humanity and heightened my understanding of what it means to truly serve to create a world of peace.

In this section of the documentary, Mother Teresa sat in a small, dark room in a war-torn region of Eastern Europe. It may have been Serbia, but I’m not certain. There were two other people in the room with her: The Leader of the United Nations Peacekeeping mission and the Archbishop of the region. The three of them huddled over a map on the table in front of them.

Mother Teresa fervently pointed to an area on the map, insisting that they go into a certain section of the city. “This is where we must go. There are people injured and sick here. We must bring them medicine and take care of them,” she said.

The Leader of the United Nations mission apologetically told her it was not possible to go into that area because the fighting was heavy. “We are unable to go into that area. It’s not safe. We cannot protect you there,” he noted.

Mother Teresa continued to insist and her voice became increasingly agitated. The Archbishop, tried to calm her, saying, “We cannot go there now. Our Catholic holiday is in three days and then there will be a cease-fire. So we must wait until we can go safely.”

Mother Teresa raised her voice. “The people cannot wait three days. They will be dying. We must go now.” The Archbishop softened his voice and proceeded to patronize her. “I understand what you are saying. It is a nice idea, but we cannot go there.”

At that point, Mother Teresa looked up from the map, angrily glared into the eyes of the Archbishop and shouted indignantly. “It’s not an idea, it’s our duty!”

She passionately reminded them of their purpose and from that moment on, the three of them were committed to achieve the impossible – to discover a way to immediately enter the area safely with their medical team. And they succeeded.

The solution was absolutely brilliant. They devised a plan to initiate an immediate cease-fire. They encouraged the Archbishop to declare the next day as the Catholic holiday. As a result, the cease-fire occurred two days ahead of time, and the UN Peacekeepers, the nuns and the medical team arrived safely to care for the sick and injured. An idea like that must have been divinely inspired.

This glimpse into Mother Teresa’s devoted spirit taught me three important lessons:
1. We all have a duty to serve humanity.
2. There is a solution to every problem.
3. We all have a right to live in peace.

Lorraine Sims is a Vancouver-based activist, writer and leadership coach. She is currently writing a book about how each of us can contribute to world peace. www.lorrainesims.com

photo © Zatletic

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