More than 40 other letters, many of which she had asked to be destroyed in her will, show her fighting off feelings of "darkness" and torture." During that time period, Mother Teresa did not feel God "in her heart or in the eucharist."
"Lord, my God, you have thrown me away as unwanted - unloved. I call, I cling, I want, and there is no one to answer, no, no one. Alone. Where is my faith? Even deep down right in there, there is nothing. I have no faith. I dare not utter the words and thoughts that crowd in my heart."
She added: "I am told God loves me, and yet the reality of the darkness and coldness and emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul. Did I make a mistake in surrendering blindly to the Call of the Sacred Heart?"
She even compared her problems to hell and admitted that she had begun to doubt the existence of heaven and God.
"The smile," she wrote, "is a mask or a cloak that covers everything. I spoke as if my very heart was in love with God, a tender personal love. If you were there you would have said, 'What hypocrisy'."
Feeling the absense of God is a lot more common in the spiritual tradition than an abiding, non-wavering belief. The poet and Benedictine monk, Kilian McDonnell writes of the common experience of those who, as he puts it, "remember the early days when prayer was sometimes filled with delight," but now feel as if they are "dying in the Sahara, no longer thirsty for God." Still, he adds, they "faithfully search for God, still pray, while wondering if there is anyone out there. Not a piece of God's candy for years." The wonder is in the waiting, which is not passive, but watchful: at its core is an invincible hope.
The waiting. The hope. Bits of candy along the way. Thrown out from a passing clown in a parade? I wonder if there is a way to encourage the candy-throwing. My concept of God is still not well-formed, but I am definitely on a path of discovery and candy-catching.
Twenty-two years ago I started keeping a little notebook of gratitude which provided 'sweet' awareness of continued blessings. Here are some of the entries:
May 18 - Thank you for the blue skirt, green pants, shorts, blouse. Such abundance, comfort (I can't imagine being comforted by green pants today).
May 19 - Thank you for the visit from Columb last night. Kindred spirit - spiritual break-through. Thank you for guiding me to wonderful books.
May 20 - Thank you for the insight into the physical world I had today. Every action involving something material is symbolic. We live in the world. The earth makes us dirty. We sweat. When we bathe, we remove the things of the world. We are cleansed. I'm going to try to see the meaning daily of removing the stains of my life.
May 22 - Thank you for the Woman's Conference and especially the guided meditation. New ideas. Great possibilities. Choices. Adventures.
May 25 - Got shoes for all three children. Casually mentioned there should be a group discount and the salesman gave it to me. Thank you.
June 8 - Started my period. Thank you.
That was 1988. I think in 2010 I am going to make a conscious effort to see and eat God's candy through gratitude. Already, I am grateful I have an income and excellant health and wonderful friends. There's so much more, I'll have to get another little green notebook.