by Andrew Craig
Mother Teresa told us that “holiness is not a luxury for the few; it is not just for some people. It is meant for you and for me and for all of us…If we learn to love, we learn to be holy.” She also said, “Our mission is to convey God’s love – not a dead God but a living God, a God of love.”
These words from Mother Teresa give me hope and comfort as I look back on the past three weeks.
A few weeks ago, my high school, Fordham Prep, faced the loss of two students due to suicide within a couple of weeks. While I did not know the two gentlemen, I could picture the halls of my school—the students, the teachers, and everyone else—as they heard the news. I sat trapped in my mind at my desk as I processed what all this meant, until I logged onto Facebook and saw the posts streaming in from fellow alums and friends from the Prep. There were multitudes of posts sending prayers, thoughts, and memories to our fellow Rams. With each post I was transported back to the Prep, reliving my time there. Walking through the halls, guys shouting out to one another to meet up later for the game, rushing to my class on the other side of the building before the bell rang, sitting in the library hearing guys make animal noises until our librarian, Ms. Andrews, told them to quiet down, visiting teachers for office hours after school while trying to catch the Bx26 bus to go home. These thoughts and moments filled my head, as they do while I write these words now. They made me remember my own doubts and fears while I was in high school, as well as my own hopes and joys there. They reminded me of how anxious I was thinking about and worried so much about the way others perceived me, not knowing fully how to interact with others and whether or not what I would do next would be seen as funny or weird. I was trying to figure out this social tango and where I should step next to keep the discussion going. I see my junior year retreat, Emmaus, as a blessing. It was then that I realized how much I was cared about and how much I was able to share my care for others without worry of negative thoughts. From Emmaus on, my experience at the Prep got better and I felt much more myself.
“Our mission is to convey God’s love.” What a task! How in a million years could I possibly show someone else the same level of love that God shows for me? And yet, the moment I start to realize and feel care from others, I cannot help but feel thankful for my life, for the life that God blesses me with every day. What better way to show my appreciation for the love God has put into my life than by showing this same love for others? Even if it is in the smallest act I can manage, a hug, a smile, an open door, helping someone read over their paper, telling someone what they need to hear and not necessarily what they want to hear, caring for someone’s mental health.
Mental health is important for every individual, and much of the time it goes unnoticed or unaddressed in a society, a group, or a family. God Himself has counted every hair on our heads. We are worth something, each and every person. But what if someone cannot see his or her worth? Cannot make out anything amid the storm cloud of stresses and anxiety filling his or her mind? I do not know for sure. But sometimes a conversation can be the guiding wind in the middle of a storm, the calming presence of God, the Light at the end of a long and cold tunnel. So how does someone “convey God’s love” then? Who can I convey it to? I do not think I am in the position to answer either fully, but I can say, the value of knowing that someone cares about me is immeasurable. And each of us is blessed with the ability to let someone else know that we care about them.