Saturday, September 13, 2014


Ministry According to Mother Theresa
What does ministry mean to you? Is it something difficult? Something you need special training to do? Years to accomplish a goal? It could, of course, be all those things. But for most of us, without special training, or special gifts, with time and financial  constraints and family obligations, it’s simpler. And many ministries are simple; simple enough for a child to do. Mother Theresa of Calcutta taught ministry in brilliant simplicity for the world to emulate. “In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.”
I remember one of my Girl Scout Troops made bedside bags for nursing home patients while learning to sew and learning compassion.  For several of them, that lead to a new ministry as Candy Stripers. The bags were a service project. To become a Candy Striper required a commitment to an ongoing service. Delivering the mail and the flowers, bringing smiles and joy to the elderly became a ministry for them. “Spread your love, everywhere you go,” Mother Theresa said.
There are ladies in my small parish church, too old to be Candy Stripers, who have a prayer blanket ministry. They meet, pray, and construct small lap blankets for the infirm. “It is not the magnitude of our actions but the amount of love that is put into them that matters.”
I attend Church in other cities and states on Sunday mornings when I’m traveling with my books. Some have an entire page in their bulletin listing all their ministries, everything from hand bells, teaching, visitations, gardening, just about anything really. “The miracle is not that we do this work, but that we are happy to do it.”
A ministry that brought great joy to a lot of people in the twelve years I pursued it, also brought me joy and happiness. My therapy dog ministry.
Several years ago I contracted Lyme Disease. I was very ill for a long time. During my recovery we bought a golden retriever puppy. She did so much for me, gave me so much love and joy, I vowed if I got well I would share her with others who were ill.  Lily was a wonderful therapy dog for the next twelve years at hospitals and nursing homes. We eventually added a golden rescue to the family, who, when she recovered from her own dire condition, also became a therapy dog. I never ceased being amazed by what the dogs could accomplish.

I eventually wrote a book about their ministry, Just for the Moment: The Remarkable Gift of the Therapy Dog. Their stories continue to bring joy to others. The dogs lived Mother Theresa’s famous quote: “Do not think that love, in order to be genuine, has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired.” I admired the dogs for their simple , tireless ministry.