Beyond Spy vs. Spy

One summer a long time ago, I travelled to the South of France with some compatriots, who were more interested in making a whirlwind drive-by viewing of all the "must-sees." I just wanted to walk around, so we parted ways.
I went to the train station, and bought a ticket to a place a granny had told me about. When I got there (St. Jean de Luz), I noticed immediately that it was a resort for senior citizens. There was absolutely nothing for me to explore there. So, I found a hotel room that was near enough to the sea for me to at least hear the waves, bought a slice of my favourite cake (gateau basque), ate it by the beach, and the next day, I made my way towards another seaside town, said to be within walking distance. The directions I was given confused me at one moment, for I seemed to be going away from the sea, towards the distant mountain, and I found myself in a park with old men drinking at a cafe and playing boules, and they stared at me as I made my way through with a lack of conviction.
Then, I happened upon a tiny square: short edifices all crowding in on each other, and I noticed one facade to be that of a church. I went inside, and as I contemplated a statue of Christ (as a non-religious teenager), this was the thought that occurred to me: leave your heart, but not your name.
I think I was much wiser at that time, and I only think of it because yesterday a friend was talking about Mother Teresa. When I was a child, I was fascinated by her, and one of my parent's friends who sometimes took me out to lunch brought me photos he had taken of her when he was shooting in Calcutta. I wrote to him about my experience in the South of France, and was surprised when I heard (through hearsay) that he was mocking my adolescent epiphany.
As I think back now, trying to remember my fascination with this selfless character, Mother Teresa, (in the language here, the word for character comes from the word face or image, which can be connected to "in God's image"), I am now filled with memories of bringing the elderly plastic-cup-fulls of orange cordial, and a short time I spent at an incredible organisation, The Home of Loving Faithfulness, an establishment founded by two British women for people with special needs, who were rejected by the government facilities for being "hopeless cases."
I remember one woman there who enjoyed sitting on her skateboard and having armfuls of stuffed toys. She did not allow anyone to take even one of these stuffed toys from her. There are others I remember, but will not write about. And then, the one I spent most time with. A woman who would just lay there, staring into space. Every day, I would look at her, and try to get her to look out the window (there was a nice view). One day, she looked at me, turned her head at turtle's pace to the window, and smiled. I saw these people not as "challenged" but as possessing (and having developed) gifts that we also have, but throw away as we pursue the unnecessary-because the unnecessary has its charms. I think that we can become aware of these gifts by spending time with those who have been called out of the world in a very specific way.
What I mean is that when I think of many people who surround me at this time - a situation rife with gossip, hearsay and egos, all of the tension seems so unnecessary. So why is it such a problem? Black spy's tactics lead to white spy's tactics for what seems like an eternity. That gets boring and frustrating, so it is a real question: why do people trick themselves into thinking that such an approach is useful?
When I think back to my child self and my wish to help like Mother Teresa, I feel like I need to renew my inner orientation. Yesterday, my friend told me that she had had moments of doubt, such doubt, that she would say if there is a God, may He have mercy on her. Can we imagine looking at lepers every day? Leprosy of the soul is one thing (and thankfully rare), but what of the situation when it is visible, when the discomfort is constant, so rife and abundant?
So many people today are nervous about the economic situation. I am, too. But my main concern has been more general, that I have made certain life choices that put me in a different socio-economic category than my education and background would otherwise prescribe. But what is the use of getting all excited about these things? The people in the Home of Loving Faithfulness do not have such preoccupations. And, by our standards, shouldn't they have more?
What we can do at this time and at any time is to measure our lives in terms of our resources: are we making use of what we have, or dreaming beyond our limits? Making use of what we have... One knows one is doing this if one is being creative. Life is not about buying something finished, but using one's creative faculties to reach a solution, that may change along the way.
Then there is the other part, which has to do with kindness towards others, which care-givers and parents already do by default of their callings. I hope I do not sound like I am preaching; this is not my intention, rather, I feel that there are certain universal truths - that all religions and cultures acknowledge. This is what I wish to discuss.
I am beginning to think that part of this kindness involves opening up certain dialogues. Isn't it true that we shine to the best of our potential when we are with certain people? They just bring out the best in us? Well, isn't it up to us to help bring out the best in others? We all want to enjoy our lives, so making it clear to someone that one is not interested in, say, gossip, releases both speaker and listener. The changes we are called to make can be the tiniest, but still important, changes.
If there were a prescription, I would go with this: leave your heart, but not your name. In the end, what lasts the longest? Love does. And anyway, which side are we on?

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