A Beautiful Example
As someone who is devoted to her Catholic faith, Mary agreed with her father’s ideas that the Good Life comes from a commitment to sacrificing for the sake of others. However, instead of emphasizing the truth element, she (like a true artist) emphasized the role of beauty.
Mary said her view of the Good Life is shaped by the example of Mother Teresa. Mary admired how Mother Teresa saw beauty in the lives of orphans in India, the same kids who were overlooked by the rest of society. Recognizing this beauty caused Mother Teresa to love them, and love of this type was powerful enough to transform thousands of lives.
Seeing it First-hand
Shortly after talking with Mary about how Mother Teresa sacrificed all that she had to care for the sick and orphaned, I had the opportunity to travel to India. Along with my friend Harsh, we visited Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity organization in downtown Calcutta. My work schedule prevented me from going through the orientation process for volunteers, but I was able to meet with the sisters and donate a pair of shoes to the kids at the orphanage.
The lady who received my gift was an American nun named Lucy who once served at a convent only 25 miles from the area where Mary and Dr. Hurlbut live. Witnessing the gratitude on Lucy’s face was enough to show me that she is truly happy with her life in Calcutta. She told me about her fond memories of living in beautiful California, but she admitted that she rarely misses the conveniences of American life since she now experiences the joys of giving.
In a similar manner, I saw Mary enthusiastically giving her time to show love to her three siblings. Though her brothers and sisters are not in need of clothing, food, and medicine like those in India, these children respond to love in the same way. Despite having to spend the majority of her workweek with high school students, Mary enjoys spending as much time as she can with her family.
After thinking about the question, Mary added these thoughts weeks later, emphasizing that the Good Life is not always easy:
The Good Life is having the peace and stillness to listen to your heart and the courage to follow your conscience. Life if full of challenges. The Good Life is being able to take perspective that allows these challenges to become stepping stones to a greater good; to continually renew our commitments, even when we’ve failed. We should strive to transform our personal suffering into compassion…
The Good Life is trusting in the power of love, seeking meaning, and embracing both joy and suffering with gratitude while living in kindness. Even if it’s not good now, life is a journey that, I believe, ultimately leads to a good destination for everyone who seeks it and believes in the transformative power of courageous, self-giving love.
The Good Life is a life that sustains the belief that what seems bad or hideously imperfect can be transformed into a deeply meaningful good through the grace of God and the power of Christ’s love.
Beauty, Love, and Truth
Before I left that evening, I explained how their answers to the Good Life question seem to match my definition of experiencing beauty, love, and truth and sharing these three things with a community of others. Both the artist and the scientist agreed that they could not have said it better themselves.
Truth, and goodness, and beauty are but different faces of the same all.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson
Let the beauty we love become the good we do.
I cannot believe that the inscrutable universe turns on an axis of suffering; surely the strange beauty of the world must somewhere rest on pure joy!
— Louise Bogan
Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do… but how much love we put in that action.
— Mother Teresa
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