In my book The Alchemist, the young shepherd Santiago meets an old man in the town square. He is searching for a treasure, but does not know how to reach it.
The old man starts up a conversation with him: “How many sheep have you got?” “Enough,” answers Santiago.
“Then we have a problem. I can’t help if you think you have enough sheep.”
Based on this extract, the Peruvian priest Clemente Sobrado wrote an interesting piece, which I transcribe below:
One of the biggest problems that we drag around with us all our life is to want to believe we have “enough sheep”.
We are surrounded by certainties, and nobody wants someone showing up to propose something new.
If we could only suspect that we don’t have everything, and that we aren’t all that we could be!
Maybe we are all faced with a very serious problem, namely that although we have the opportunity to help one another, the truth is that few people let themselves be helped.
Why is that? Because they think they have “enough sheep”.
They already know everything, they are always right, they feel comfortable in their lives.
Almost all of us are like that: We have many things but few aspirations.
We have many ideas already sorted out, and we don’t want to give them up.
Our life scheme is already organised and we don’t need someone trying to make changes.
We’ve done enough praying, practiced charity, read the lives of the saints, gone to Mass, taken communion.
A friend of mine once said: “I don’t know why I come to visit you, father. I am already a good Christian.”
On that day I could not help answering: “Then don’t come to visit me, because there are a lot of people waiting to see me and they are all full of doubts. But one thing you ought to know: You aren’t bad enough to be bad, nor good enough to be good, nor holy enough to work miracles.
“You are just a Christian satisfied with what you have achieved.
“And all those who are satisfied have in fact renounced the ideal of always improving. Let’s talk about this some other time, all right?”
Ever since then, whenever we speak on the telephone he starts by saying: “This person who is calling hasn’t yet grown up as much as he could”.