In 1957, Mother (Saint) Teresa wrote “I am told God lives in me, and yet the reality of darkness and coldness and emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul”. This woman, though small in stature, loomed larger than life to most, and throughout much of her public ministry - replete with amazing deeds of genuine charity, she struggled through a blackness that many consider incomprehensible, at least in their contemplation of who they think this saintly person was.
In truth, all human beings experience a “darkness and coldness and emptiness…so great that nothing touches [our] souls”, but in all too many instances we are simply not aware enough of the real presence of God in our lives to recognize that blackness. Not unlike the man who steps out of his storm cellar after a tornado has leveled everything around him and declares, “there’s nothing wrong here”, so too most of us see ourselves as “nothing wrong here” because we are simply unable to see who we truly are. It’s not that we don’t want to see ourselves, but rather that we are too immersed in the distractions of the world to be able to do so. Without God’s graces and our complete trust in Him, we are simply unable to truly witness to who we really are. Saint Teresa’s gift from God was that she was able to truly see, experience, and live the emptiness inside her – despite a universe of distractions, while continuing to serve our Lord in every person she encountered. She trusted in God unceasingly and because of that trust, though she was unable to see the Christ within herself, she was able always to see Him in the struggling, suffering, hopelessness she witnessed in so many that stood before her.