The following poem is engraved on the wall of Mother Teresa's home for children in Calcutta. Apparently, it is a version of an earlier writing called "Paradoxical Commandments" by Dr. Kent Keith. Mother Teresa liked it enough to post it on the wall and others assumed that she authored it. I guess that is because we all know it is how she lived.
In actuality, Keith first wrote this remarkable poem when he was 19 and a sophomore at Harvard. Now speed forward to 1997, Keith was listening to a reflection at the beginning of a Rotary Club meeting. Mother Teresa had recently died and a member wanted to honor her memory. Keith was astonished to hear the words he had written in his youth. When Keith asked his friend where he found the poem, he recalled that it was in some book about Mother Teresa's life. That night Keith went to a bookstore and began searching until he discovered the poem on the last page of "Mother Teresa: A Simple Path." The book did not credit an author, only mentioned that it was posted at her orphanage.
Keith shares this story in his book, "Do It Anyway: The Handbook for Finding Personal Meaning and Happiness in a Crazy World." He was elated to learn that his words were meaningful to Mother Teresa,"I wanted to
laugh, and cry, and shout–and I was getting chills up and down my spine. Perhaps
it hit me hard because I had a lot of respect for Mother Teresa, and perhaps
because I knew something about children's homes. Whatever the reason, it had a
huge impact on me".
What fascinates me is the intimate connections our lives forge with one another. Like Keith, some people we may never meet, others only briefly but they profoundly touch our lives in ways that we could never have imagined. That is the miracle and power of Love. It is without limit or boundary and expansive in infinite ways. I get chills when it think about it.
Perhaps you are familiar with Keith's poem, which was renamed "Anyway." These are words that I needed to hear today. Especially when it comes to living in my skin...lessons I can apply not only to my relationship with others but with myself as well...as in, I am often unreasonable, illogical and self centered...and I forgive myself anyway.
~liz Sorensen Wessel
People are often unreasonable, illogical and self centered;
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you've got anyway.
You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God;
It was never between you and them anyway.
By -Dr. Kent Keith