Most of the time, I don’t really wonder what Mother Theresa and Macaulay Culkin have in common.
But, today I guess I do. They share the same birthday. Today, August 26. Mother Theresa was born in Skopje, Albania, Ottoman Empire, in the year 1910. Macaulay came into this world in New York City, seventy years later.
Of course we all know what they are famous for. Mother Theresa devoted her life to humanitarian efforts. She was a Catholic missionary, and although she was Algerian at birth, she went to India as a missionary nun. There, in India, she received “the call within the call.” It was her “order” from God to help the poor, sick and dying.
She did a lot, for a lot of people. There was some controversy about the quality of care, and the spending of the donations, and such. I don’t remember the actual incidents, but it is always mentioned in her Bios. Regardless. In the slums of Calcutta, she made a wave of good, starting schools and orphanages. Hospices. By the time of her death she was operating 517 missions in more than 100 countries. That’s pretty a big bunch for a little nun from the Ottoman Empire.
Then we have Macaulay Culkin. Born seven decades later in 1980. He became an actor at a pretty early age. He was four, to be exact. His breakout role came in 1990 with Home Alone. He had a couple more movies that did well at the box office, and then he mostly fell into Kid Star Obscurity. He’s been in a lot of different film and TV productions, for sure. But none with the success of the Home Alone ventures. That’s what everyone knows him for.
This is where the Universe comes in to play. Another prime example that it knows what it is doing. The Universe put Mother Theresa there in India, helping people, and little Macaulay on the Silver Screen entertaining people.
But what if the roles had been switched. What if one morning, the Universe hadn’t quite had her coffee yet, and there was Macaulay, over in India, in the depths and pits of Calcutta, surrounded by the illness, and poverty, and pain. I can see the face he makes in Home Alone, where he slaps his own cheeks with both hands, and looks on, in sheer terror.
Conversely, then, we would have Mother Theresa, at the McCallister household, there in freezing cold Chicago. Waking up one morning, to find the place empty, while burglars Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern come prowling around and in. Little Mother Theresa, skirting about, fixing booby traps everywhere, biting on her tongue as she works. And when the face-to-face comes with the burglars, she pulls out that finger and flips them off.
I’m sure it would have its moments, but as you can see, if the Universe had not been paying attention, both of those scenarios could have gone miserably wrong.
Mother Theresa landed where she did. The same is true with Macaulay Culkin. Two people born on the same date, in a time span, not so far away, but with wildly different outcomes.
The Universe. It is an incredibly big place. It is vast. It is complicated beyond reason, and so simple at the same time. It has no limits, yet here we are, with our limitations. Each one of us is an integral part of the Universe. I believe this. But, it has no obligation to any one of us. I am told it gives us what we ask for. That it is waiting to conspire with us.
What is right before us is our part in this. We can only hope to be our best at these things, whatever they are. In sewing a dress. Petting a cat. Writing a letter. Singing a song. Standing up for a cause. Sitting down to rest. That next thing comes along is ours to do. And the Universe holds it all.
“You are a function of what the whole universe is doing in the same way that a wave is a function of what the whole ocean is doing.”
― Alan Watts
“The Universe is under no obligation to make sense to you.”
― Neil deGrasse Tyson
“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.”
― Rachel Carson