Sometimes when I read about the privations that saints have endured, I despair of ever becoming one. While the saints are deliberately choosing pains and sufferings, I am doing everything I can to avoid the pains and to get my needs met.
Currently I am having problems with severe osteo arthritis throughout my body, including growths in my feet and fallen arches. I have always had problems with my feet, as they are misshapen. They are very wide over the metatarsals but narrow in the heel. One foot is an inch longer than the other. I've had terrible foot pain for the last 53 years.
Doctors, podiatrists and shoe experts have been telling me that I need to have shoes made specifically for me throughout my life, but I have never been able to afford it, so I have tried to "make do" with different shoe styles, including some versions of Birkenstocks and the vaguely affordable Crocs. Now that Crocs has changed their styles to conform to a new, slimmer line with a harder plastic shell, I can no longer wear them.
Walking has become a nightmarish trial. Every step feels as if someone has taken a hammer to my feet, knees, hip and back. Even when my legs are elevated, I experience a sharp, pounding pain in the left foot and ankle which I have broken 5 times since I was 11 years old. Disfigured with masses of twisted purple and blue veins, along with large areas of swelling, my legs look almost as bad as they feel, despite the recent loss of 47 or more pounds.
Looking at Mother Teresa of Calcutta's feet, I can only imagine the agony she must have endured with long hours on her feet, caring for the poor and dying, wearing shoes that not only did not fit her but also twisted her toes into bizarre conformations.
I read a story some time ago about how Mother Teresa would choose her sandals when she needed them. From the donation box, she would pick the most worn out, ugliest and poorest made sandals for herself. While I am complaining about not getting my needs met with regard to shoes, I have her example before me: a woman so self-effacing and humble that she picked the worst of the worst for herself, even though it likely caused her tremendous physical pain and most certainly caused malformation of her bones. We can see the twisting of the toes.
Lacking the fortitude and saintliness of Mother Teresa, I cannot even aspire to her example. I just can't. The physical pain is a huge distraction and presents a sizable limitation in my mobility.
While I can't follow her example, I can learn from it, though. Certainly, her example is a lesson in humility. Her choice to emulate the poorest of the poor, the most humble and vulnerable of humanity, is also a great lesson in gratitude and an adjustment in perspective. No matter how much pain and privation I am enduring at this point in time, it is nothing compared to the plight of many thousands of people in the world today.
If I do manage to get some shoes made for me, I will remember to walk a few miles for the sake of others and in service to the poorest of the poor. I will remember to be grateful, once again, for having been born in a country with a fairly high standard of living. I will remind myself to keep rein on my ego and not let it get carried away with itself. Please help me with your prayers.
God bless us all.
Silver "Rose" Parnell