My life changed when I was about 20. At the time I was an art student in Chicago. At the time I thought that all I wanted to do was make paintings, get recognition for them, and hopefully get a job teaching art somewhere cool. I was very committed. I had my own studio and took the pursuit of art very seriously. I was also a recovering addict at the time and had taken up practices like meditation to help me cultivate spirituality. In general, I thought I was pretty cool and had a good life planned out. What I didn’t know is that I was about to get my ass kicked by an elderly Macedonian nun.
The ass-kicking took place when one of my professors showed our class a documentary about Mother Teresa. In one part of the film, they showed Mother Teresa and her nuns helping some spastic children in Beirut during the war. Along with the footage was her voice-over. These are the words that changed my life forever.
Small things with great Love….
It is not how much we do it is how much Love we put into the doing.
And it is not how much we give, but how much Love we put into the giving.
God’s love is infinite – full of tenderness, full of compassion.
God loves the world through us – you and me.
The way you touch people, the way you give to people – that love for one another.
Many people talk about Love and talk about God but they may not be loving at all.
Love must be put into action.
As I watched the footage and listened to Mother Teresa’s words, my heart moved like a 10,000 pound boulder. Tears welled up in my eyes. I was changed. In that moment – in less than 2 minutes – I knew my life’s purpose. I was to be a vehicle for God’s Love on Earth. I wasn’t religious – I wasn’t even sure what “God” or “Love” even meant – but I knew what I needed to do. There was no way after that point that I could choose anything else in life. After that point, I couldn’t even imagine doing something else.
I had to serve people – and I had to be a vehicle for God’s Love.
That service has taken on many forms over the 24 years since that moment. And it’s been – and continues to be -a very sloppy and imperfect process. But from that moment forward to today, that has been my path and my life’s purpose and mission. Whether I am writing, or teaching, or riding my motorcycle on a cross country book tour, or changing my daughter’s diaper; whether I am leading someone in meditation, or helping someone navigate a gnarly divorce, or sitting in my meditation seat praying for the people in my life, I am trying, in my own imperfect way, to put Love into action and let God love the world through me.