March 09th 2008 - Works of Love as Works of Peace
by Robin Cunningham, LMT, CH, RRMT, SF
Mother Teresa lives in my living room. Her words ring throughout my home, and my brain -- “Works of love are Works of Peace." I say Mother Teresa lives in my living room because I possess a rare and cherished documentary video that I get to watch any time I wish. Mother (as those touched by her endearingly call her) softly, yet with such power evokes the best in those around her, even when she is preserved on a slim video tape recording.
This video is the result of yet another work of love as a work of peace by a dear and treasured friend, independent fill maker Ann Petrie, of Toronto Canada (by way of New York). I have been deeply touched by witnessing the power of truly working from the sincerity and simplicity of love in action. Ann, and her sister Jeanette, determined to create this work of peace in 1986, when they first met Mother. It took nearly 10 years of “testing” to gain Mother’s confidence and blessing to make the movie. That, in itself, was no small act of courage and love.
Mother, as you may remember, founded the Sisters of Charity, who vowed to help the poorest of the poor through love and compassion. The first Sisters of Charity home was established in Calcutta, one of the poorest communities in the world. From there, Mother gently, lovingly, and without fanfare, expanded the Sister’s reach into impoverished communities all over the globe. The one most memorable for me is the one created in the South Bronx. Mother states in the documentary of this being the poorest nation she experienced so far, because here in America, there is the greatest and deepest poverty -- that of the spirit.
The movie industry is a high stakes, high dollar machine. An independent filmmaker must either have a lucrative backer, or public funding, or fund it from his or her own pocket. To be allowed to create this film, Ann had to agree to Mother’s only criterion that meant no fundraising was allowed in Mother’s name. Ann and her sister were not rolling in money, and they had no major backer. They were so moved to make this film, however, that they put their absolute trust and faith in knowing it would happen. You know what I mean…. That absolute “knowing” that transcends logic and boundaries, and obstacles. The outcome was an eighty-two minute color documentary shot on the run over a period of five years in ten countries on four continents.
Later, during the filming and production of the film, the project came to the attention of Richard Attenborough, who championed its completion and distribution. Ann and Jeanette were able to create an independent film without fundraising and with virtually no outside money, therefore abiding by Mother’s wishes. In short, they were able to do the impossible. Love in action.
Today, Ann and Jeanette Petrie have created another more in-depth film documenting Mother’s life, and death. They are in the same situation with the new film as they were with the last one, since Sir Attenborough has since passed on. And, they still possess that inner “knowing” as they continue with their works of love as works of peace, for the very distribution and viewing of these documentaries has the potential of changing the world into a more loving and compassionate place. Meanwhile, Mother and I visit on a regular basis over coffee in my living room.
If you would like more information regarding these and other films by Ann Petrie, contact Petrie Productions, Inc., or check out the website WWW.MotherTeresaFilm.com.
Taos, New Mexico
Taos, NM 87571
Mother Teresa Ann and Jeanette Petrie Petrie Productions