Mother Teresa (1910-1997)
Mother Teresa was interviewed on television by Malcolm Muggeridge in 1968. Muggeridge was a florid-faced imp. A life-long cynic he had lived in India and didn't hide his dismay at Mother Teresa's hopeless efforts there. Afterward he thought the interview itself was hopelessly boring. Some on the crew acted as if they would be just as happy if the interview was never shown at all.
Later she was told the program was received like no other in Muggeridge's career. The program had to be repeated. Mother Teresa had not asked for money but money poured into BBC. With it came the common message that she had reached their heart as no one else before. BBC asked if they could film her at her work for a one-hour television program. She gave the film crew five days in 1969. Muggeridge arrived in Calcutta too, looking befuddled.
Muggeridge was hostile to organized religion but of all the crew he showed up every morning at Mass. At the House of Dying the small miracle happened that happened to all visitors: horror, then paralysis, then pity, then personal contact. From contact with the battered, the elderly, the diseased, the visitor came to realize the pitiful creatures were real people, endearing and lovable. Thus came love. How could one not give comfort to beloved friends?
But the film crew said filming inside the House of Dying was impossible. The light was too poor to film. They filmed anyway. To make sure they came away with something they filmed patients in the sunshine of a courtyard. They went on to film the House of Children. They filmed the schools, the lepers. More and more often Muggeridge was so overcome he stumbled off camera in tears. When he learned lepers were making money by printing pamphlets on a press bought by Mother Teresa he was confounded. "But what do you know of printing presses? How do you..." The questions died in his throat.
The crew finished their filming, certain much of the film was useless. Often the cans of sensitive film sat baking in the Calcutta sun. And there were all the lighting problems in hopelessly dim interiors. Mother Teresa shrugged. God would decide if the film was part of His plan or not. Later Muggeridge wrote her that the film, much of which they were ready to scrap, turned out beautifully - especially in the House of Dying. There was no logic to it. It simply could not have happened. But Muggeridge knew why it happened and he explained why to everyone who would listen: Love illuminated the interior of the House of Dying!
He went on to write Something Beautiful for God, a tender book about Mother Teresa's work, and relentlessly promoted her for the Nobel Peace Prize!
[ sources: Something Beautiful for God by Malcolm Muggeridge, 1971, and Such a Vision of the Street by Eileen Egan, 1985]
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