“Bring love into your home, for this is where our love for each other must start.”Mother Teresa
There are many quotes like this I have read recently. They are not all entirely direct quotes but paraphrased from speeches by Mother Teresa. Needless, the premise behind such quotes is pretty much the same, the message unmistakable. To love each other as if they were our own. To love without distinction or prejudice and to love with intensity and sincerity. It remains a solemn reminder to act with kindness and that it is in the everyday acts that we have the power to make a difference. Mother Teresa spoke of many things that I had not heard or read before but that ring with truth. I want to explore her writings more. Especially now.
There has always been discontent in the world. In our homes, our neighbours, our country and in countries far from home. Loving, living without judgement. These are not always easy things to do. And it is all so easy to miss those opportunities to show love, to be gracious in receiving a smile, to give our hearts, our thoughts and kindnesses, all to bring a glimmer of joy, peace and love to others.
I was at Ikea recently, and a young lady who appeared a tad self-conscious, a trait youth must often master (I certainly know I had to), was at the counter processing her purchases. The young man in attendance smiled at her. It was an unrepressed smile full of his spirit and generosity. It was beautiful to witness. His face came alive, and his eyes shone. He loved in that smile. You could not help but return that smile if only you could see it and accept the honesty of it. But the young lady was self-conscious and did not dwell on his face. She missed a golden opportunity to walk away with something more valuable than affordable Swedish designed homewares. Her heart would have filled, and she would have felt gratitude to be alive, to be part of humanity, and to have felt a wordless connection to that man.
It is easy to become lost in our fears and worries. Covid’s presence lingers. There were catastrophic floods that devastated northern NSW and southeast Queensland. Even if we know no one who has been affected, we can still imagine the feelings of loss, fear, the financial burden of rebuilding when the waters reside. I read recently that flood insurance in Lismore costs something in the order of $28,000 a year! Who can afford that? They have to build from scratch with nothing. And there is the oppressive threat of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. There is potential for this situation to affect all of us, whether directly or indirectly. I, along with the rest of the world, watch on. Like many others, I feel pretty powerless in the face of all of this. I donated some money for humanitarian aid in Ukraine. It amounts to nothing, but it is what I can do. We give, we do, what we can.
But I have strength in the small things (a concept expressed by Mother Teresa – she was incredible! Whatever even is the point of saying anything?!). As always, it is here I will stand, feet firmly planted, growing and preparing food for my family, sharing the abundance with friends, giving a smile, a kind word or thought, to anyone who will receive it.
I don’t talk about love in everyday life. But I feel it, and I think about it. I wonder why many others can be so caught up in themselves that they can’t see others around them with their pains and joys. To share a moment, a smile, a word of acknowledgement and well wishes. It just seems so easy to forget about yourself for a moment. We are not more important than anybody else, after all. But the pace of life, modern expectations, the way we live in western society does not promote selflessness. For all our riches, we are poor.
Do truly selfless people still exist? Is it something we can find in ourselves, a chance to make the world a better place?
There are glimmers to be found in the stories told by others across the ages, in different cultures, and other languages. I am hungry for their messages. In them, there is much to learn. There is food for growth of mind and spirit. These messages are not always where you expect them. I have found them in novels from over a hundred years ago, in the candid captures of people in their kitchens and with their loved ones, and the short, simple words expressed in the admiration of sibling love. Inspiration is everywhere.
And I believe this is the foremost issue affecting our existence. Our connections to others. Our expression of love, respect and kindness to those in our homes and those outside it. Without this firm foundation of mutual respect, consideration and empathy, how can we come together to tackle other issues in the world?
It has made me more mindful of how I treat others in my family. It has made me question if I could find a better way to interact and connect with them, especially when addressing problems. Dealing with those closest to us is so much harder, but clearly, it is where we need to start.
I have always expressed my love, respect and gratitude for my family through food. I want to enrich their lives with something as simple as a meal, or a treat, growing a garden to let them see the beauty and abundance of nature, to experience its gifts. To bring the seasons as they unfold into the home, to fill their bellies and hearts. Maybe they won’t recognise that as an expression of love. Perhaps that will come years from now when they are cooking their own loved ones a meal. But for now, it is in these small acts that I find my strength.
Love and best wishes to you all!