Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

What Would Mother Teresa Do?

By LORRAINE V. MURRAY, Commentary | Published May 23, 2013

“What a great idea,” I thought when the email came around. The pro-life group at our church would be providing a meal for a parenting class run by the Pregnancy Center of Decatur. Volunteers were asked to deliver the meal on a Thursday at 5 p.m. to a place in downtown Decatur.

“That would be a wonderful way to put into practice Mother Teresa’s saying ‘Do small things with great love,’” I told myself. Since I am fairly challenged when it comes to entrees, I volunteered to do the dessert.
This would be for about 20 people, a big crowd, but I certainly can handle that, I figured. In any event, it was a few weeks away, so I wrote down the information on a sticky note and put it on my calendar.

As the weeks went by, I would look at the sticky note and wonder what I would make, but then assure myself it was too early to think about it. Everything will work out, one of the voices in my head proclaimed, trying to calm the voice who frets about everything.

MURRAY May 23, 2013
Soon the event was just a few days away. Now I had to get serious about what I would make. As I thought about it—quite frequently, if you must know—I realized that in fact I had never made dessert for more than, say, eight people at a pop. So why in the world had I thought that making it for 20 would be that easy?

Two days before, I started making serious plans. I would bake chocolate chip cookies—at least five dozen—plus get some freshly baked pies from the bakery. Yes, that would do the trick, I told myself!

A day before, we got a call from the car dealership telling us that our car was being recalled. Could we bring it to the shop sometime soon? We looked at the calendar, and realized the only day even remotely possible in the next few weeks was—you guessed it—the day of the dessert delivery.

Still, I assured myself all would be well, because, for one thing, I could always walk over and deliver the goodies without a car. After all, we live only 1.5 miles from downtown Decatur.
On the actual day, I went to the bakery and found two lovely pies, one peach and the other apple. I also baked the cookies. Then my husband took the car to the dealership at 12:30, and said he hoped to be back in time.

As the hours wore on, my anxiety levels started rising. I picked up the two hefty pies and the container of cookies, and imagined myself walking downtown with them. I surely could do it, but it would not be pretty because they were heavy.
Of course, I could have arrived late with the desserts, but that wasn’t even an option. You see, ever since first grade, I have never been late for anything. I even arrive early for dentist appointments because being late causes me so much anxiety it isn’t worth it.

So I knew I would have to deliver the goodies by 5 p.m. or something akin to the apocalypse would unfold.

My husband arrived back home with the car just in time for me to deliver the goods. I got there a half hour early—big surprise—which meant that the door was locked. But a nice man mowing the lawn let me in.

I put the desserts in the kitchen and added a little label: Decatur Pregnancy Center. Did I think someone else would sneak in and eat them? I don’t know. I just know I’m an A student. Then I headed home, feeling like I had just climbed Mount Everest.

Later that night, I thought again about Mother Teresa. I wish I could do small things like she did with great love, but unless I have a personality transplant it’s not going to happen. So I guess I will content myself with what I do best—which is doing everything, small things and large, with great anxiety.

Artwork is by Jef Murray, whose book of stories and illustrations, “Seer: A Wizard’s Journal,” is now available. The Murrays are parishioners at St. Thomas More Church in Decatur. Readers may email them at