Beauty exists not in sameness

childrenBeauty exists not in sameness but in difference.

Who could imagine a giraffe without its long neck or a cactus without its spines?
The irregularity of the mountain peaks that surround us is what makes them so imposing. If we tried to make them all the same, they would no longer command our respect.

It is the imperfect that astonishes and attracts us.

When we look at a cedar tree, we don’t think: ‘The branches should be all the same length.’
We think: ‘How strong it is.’

When we see a snake, we never say: ‘He is crawling along the ground, while I am walking with head erect.’
We think: ‘He might be small, but his skin is colourful, his movements elegant, and he is more powerful than me.’

When the camel crosses the desert and takes us to the place we want to reach, we never say: ‘He’s humpbacked and has ugly teeth.’
We think: ‘He deserves my love for his loyalty and help. Without him, I would never be able to explore the world.’

A sunset is always more beautiful when it is covered with irregularly shaped clouds, because only then can it reflect the many colours out of which dreams and poetry are made.

Pity those who think: ‘I am not beautiful. That’s why Love has not knocked at my door.’
In fact, Love did knock, but when they opened the door, they weren’t prepared to welcome Love in.

They were too busy trying to make themselves beautiful first, when, in fact, they were fine as they were.
They were trying to imitate others, when Love was looking for something original.

They were trying to reflect what came from outside, forgetting that the brightest light comes from within.

taken from THE MANUSCRIPT FOUND IN ACCRA

2 min Sufi legend: the lost horse

By Paulo Coelho

Many years ago in a poor Chinese village, there lived a peasant with his son. His only material possession, apart from some land and a small straw hut, was a horse he had inherited from his father.

One day, the horse ran off, leaving the man with no animal with which to till the land. His neighbors – who respected him greatly for his honesty and diligence – came to his house to say how much they regretted what had happened. He thanked them for their visit, but asked:

– How can you know that what has happened has been a misfortune in my life?

Someone mumbled to a friend: “he can’t accept reality, let him think what he wants, as long as he isn’t saddened by what happened.”

And the neighbors went off, pretending to agree with what they had heard.

A week later, the horse returned to the stable, but it was not alone; it brought with it a fine mare for company. Upon hearing this, the villagers – who were flustered since they now understood the answer the man had given them – returned to the peasant’s house, in order to congratulate him on his good fortune.

– Before you had only one horse, and now you have two. Congratulations! – they said.

– Many thanks for your visit and for all your concern – answered the peasant. – But how can you know that what has happened has been a blessing in my life?

Disconcerted, and thinking he must be going mad, the neighbors went off, and on the way commented: “does he really not understand that God has sent him a gift?”

A month later, the peasant’s son decided to tame the mare. But the animal unexpectedly reared up and the boy fell and broke his leg.

The neighbors returned to the peasant’s house – bringing gifts for the wounded boy. The mayor of the village offered his condolences to the father, saying that all were very sad at what had happened.

The man thanked them for their visit and their concern, but asked:

– How can you know that what has happened has been a misfortune in my life?

They were all astonished to hear this, since no one could be in any doubt that the accident of a son was a real tragedy. As they left the peasant’s house, some said to others: “he really has gone mad; his only son might limp forever, and he is still in doubt about whether what happened is a misfortune.”

Some months passed, and Japan declared war on China. The Emperor’s envoys traveled throughout the land in search for healthy young men to be sent to the battle front. Upon arrival in the village, they recruited all the young men except the peasant’s son, whose leg was broken.

None of the young men returned alive. The son recovered, the two animals bred and their offspring were sold at a good price. The peasant began visiting his neighbors to console and help them, – since they had at all times been so caring. Whenever one of them complained, the peasant said: “how do you know it is a misfortune?” If anyone become overjoyed, he asked: “how do you know it is a blessing?” And the men in that village understood that beyond appearances, life has other meanings.

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Loyalty

FOTOLoyalty can be compared to a shop selling exquisite porcelain vases, a shop to which Love has given us the key.
Each of those vases is beautiful because it is different, as is every person, every drop of rain, every rock sleeping on the mountainside.

Sometimes, due to age or some unsuspected defect, a shelf collapses and falls. And the shop-owner says to himself:
‘I invested years of my time and my love on this collection, but the vases have betrayed me and broken.’
The man sells his shop and leaves. He becomes a solitary, embittered individual, believing that he will never trust anyone again.

It’s true that some vases do break – a promise of loyalty broken. In that case, it’s best to sweep up the pieces and throw them away, because what was broken will never be the same again.
But sometimes the reasons why a shelf collapses and falls go beyond mere human intentions: it could be an earthquake, an enemy invasion, clumsiness on the part of someone who enters the shop without looking where he is going.

Men and women blame each other for the disaster. They say: ‘Someone should have foreseen what was going to happen.’ Or: ‘If I had been in charge, these problems could have been avoided.’
Nothing could be further from the truth. We are all prisoners of the sands of time, and we have no control over them.

Time passes and the shelf that fell gets mended.

Other vases fighting for their place in the world are put there. The new shop-owner, who understands that nothing lasts, smiles and says to himself: ‘That tragedy opened up an opportunity for me and I will try to make the most of it. I will discover works of art I never even knew existed.’

taken from THE MANUSCRIPT FOUND IN ACCRA

Character of the week: The Alchemist

EN ESPANOL : Personaje de la semana: El alquimista
EM PORTUGUES: Personagem da semana: O alquimista

“Why do we have to listen to our hearts?” the boy asked, when they had made camp that day.

“Because, wherever your heart is, that is where you’ll find your treasure.”

“But my heart is agitated,” the boy said. “It has its dreams, it gets emotional, and it’s become passionate over a woman of the desert. It asks things of me, and it keeps me from sleeping many nights, when I’m thinking about her.”

“Well, that’s good. Your heart is alive. Keep listening to what it has to say.”

“My heart is a traitor,” the boy said to the alchemist, when they had paused to rest the horses. “It doesn’t want me to go on.”

“That makes sense. Naturally it’s afraid that, in pursuing your dream, you might lose everything you’ve won.”

“Well, then, why should I listen to my heart?”

“Because you will never again be able to keep it quiet. Even if you pretend not to have heard what it tells you, it will always be there inside you, repeating to you what you’re thinking about life and about the world.”

“You mean I should listen, even if it’s treasonous?”

“Treason is a blow that comes unexpectedly. If you know your heart well, it will never be able to do that to you. Because you’ll know its dreams and wishes, and will know how to deal with them.

“My heart is afraid that it will have to suffer,” the boy told the alchemist one night as they looked up at the moonless sky.

“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity.”

“Every second of the search is an encounter with God,” the boy told his heart.

“Everyone on earth has a treasure that awaits him,” his heart said. “We, people’s hearts, seldom say much about those treasures, because people no longer want to go in search of them. We speak of them only to children. Later, we simply let life proceed, in its own direction, toward its own fate. But, unfortunately, very few follow the path laid out for them—the path to their destinies, and to happiness. Most people see the world as a threatening place, and, because they do, the world turns out indeed, to be threatening place.

“So, we, their hearts, speak more and more softly. We never stop speaking out, but we begin to hope that our words won’t be heard: we don’t want people to suffer because they don’t follow their hearts.”

From “The Alchemist”

I wish you enough


(today a received an email from a very close friend of mine. I asked her if I could share it here, and she agreed)

Dear Friends,
Amongst all the activities I enjoy in London (shows, galleries, big parties etc…), the moment I enjoyed and cherished most was spending time with my 86 year old neighbor, who always took time to make me his own special coffee with a plate of cookies so graciously served to me on a white linen We used to spend hours talking…primarily me talking and he listening… with his advice whenever I asked.
Yesterday, I sent an email to him (the text is not mine) which was bounced back to me, and after having my husband (who is presently in London) check on him, I received a call to tell me that he had passed away on Jan 28th. My message of appreciation to him was a bit too late…
Below you find my message
Love
I.C.

Recently I overheard a father and daughter in their last moments together at the airport. They had announced the departure.
Standing near the security gate, they hugged and the father said, ‘I love you, and I wish you enough.’

They kissed and the daughter left. The father walked over to the window where I was seated. I tried not to intrude on his privacy, but I could not refrain from asking:
‘When you were saying good-bye, I heard you say, ‘I wish you enough.’ May I ask what that means?’

He began to smile. ‘That’s a wish that has been handed down from other generations. My parents used to say it to everyone.’
He paused a moment and looked up as if trying to remember it in detail, and he smiled even more.
‘When we said, ‘I wish you enough,’ we were wanting the other person to have a life filled with just enough good things to sustain them.’
Then turning toward me, he shared the following as if he were reciting it from memory.

I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright no matter how gray the day may appear.

I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun even more..

I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive and everlasting.

I wish you enough pain so that even the smallest of joys in life may appear bigger.

I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting…
I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.

I wish you enough hellos to get you through the final good- bye.

Past and Present


How do you make peace with a negative past and with those who have wronged you?
(By Alex)

In order to move from the past to the present you need to accept your scars. But you need to do everything in your power in order to heal them so that the ghosts of your past will no longer barge in your present life.

It is a long and difficult process I grant you – but it’s a way out of guilt and hatred in my eyes.

How does one keep enthusiasm, especially when you meet people who are well.. scary and mean?
(By Gina)

It’s normal that we don’t always keep our enthusiasm in front of obstacles. Indeed some people truly make an effort in destroying our plans and hopes and so they appear as evil.

But in these moments, if you are able to remind yourself of the reason of your actions and also see that those that are committed in creating pain around them are actually their first victims – then you may at least find an extra dose of consolation in your path. Ally yourself with those that wish you the best and don’t give strength to those that want to see you down. Don’t even grant them the right to be called your “enemies”.

How do you stop sadness? (By Nuri)

By welcoming it and living it intensively for a determined amount of period. In my case I give myself three days to be completely submersed in this feeling.

Once I’ve let sadness pay me a visit, then I kindly ask it to leave. Sadness is then satisfied and leaves.

10 sec reading: stay in the desert

Illustration by Ken Crane

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EN ESPANOL: Quedarse en el desierto
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“Why do you live in the desert?”

“Because I can’t be what I want to be.
” When I begin to be myself, people treat me with a reverence that’s false.
“When I am true to my faith, then they begin to doubt.
“They all believe they are holier than I, but they pretend they are sinners, afraid to insult my solitude.
“They try all the time to show that they consider me a saint, and in this way they become emissaries of the devil, tempting me with Pride.”

And the gentleman answered, walking off:

“Acting in this way, it’s better to stay in the desert. Your problem isn’t trying to be who you are, but trying to be accepted by everybody in the way you think you should be accepted”

1 MIN READING The cycle of nature

In the cycle of nature there is no such thing as victory or defeat: there is only movement.

The winter struggles to reign supreme, but, in the end, is obliged to accept spring’s victory, which brings with it flowers and happiness.

The summer would like to make its warm days last for ever, because it believes that warmth is good for the earth, but, finally, it has to accept the arrival of autumn, which will allow the earth to rest.

The gazelle eats the grass and is devoured by the lion. It isn’t a matter of who is the strongest, but God’s way of showing us the cycle of death and resurrection.
And within that cycle there are neither winners nor losers, there are only stages that must be gone through. When the human heart understands this, it is free, able to accept difficult times and not be deceived by moments of glory.

Both will pass. One will succeed the other. And the cycle will continue until we liberate ourselves from the flesh and find the Divine Energy.

Therefore, when the fighter is in the ring – whether by his own choice or because unfathomable destiny has placed him there – may his spirit be filled with joy at the prospect of the fight ahead. If he holds on to his dignity and his honour, then, even if he loses the fight, he will never be defeated, because his soul will remain intact.

And he will blame no one for what is happening to him.
Ever since he fell in love for the first time and was rejected, he has known that this did not put paid to his ability to love.

What is true in love is also true in war.

taken from MANUSCRIPT FOUND IN ACCRA

On the banks of the river Adour

 

We end up at a river in the middle of nowhere, near the village of Arcizac-Adour.  Some years ago we were both sitting on the banks of this very same river when we spotted a beautiful woman wearing waterproof boots up to the knees, walking on the river-bed with a sack on her shoulders. When she saw us, she came over and said:

“I know Jacqueline (a friend of ours). I asked her to introduce us and she answered: “You’ll meet them when you least expect it. My name is Isabelle Labaune.”

She explained that she was there cleaning the river of odd bits of rubbish (plastic bottles and beer cans carried down by the current), but that her true passion were horses. That afternoon we went to visit her stables.

Isabelle had a dozen or so animals, and did everything absolutely alone – she fed them, kept the place in order, cleaned the stables and fixed the tiles – indeed, all the work that would drive anyone crazy.

“I set up an association for people born with mental problems. I am absolutely certain that horse-riding makes them feel loved and integrated with society.”

Minibuses arrived bringing young people suffering from the Down Syndrome to ride the beautiful horses and stroll by the rivers and through the forests and parks. There was never an accident. The parents looked on with tears in their eyes, and Isabelle wore a smile on her lips. She was deeply proud of what she did: she woke at five in the morning, worked the whole day long, and went to bed early, exhausted.

She was a very attractive young woman. But she did not have a boyfriend:

“All the men who appear in my life want me to be a housewife. But I have a dream. I suffer when I am alone, but I would suffer a lot more if I abandoned the purpose of my life.”

One afternoon when I went to visit her, she told me she was in love. And that her boyfriend accepted her rhythm of life and was willing to help her in whatever way he could.

Some days later on I traveled to Brazil. I think that it was October when I received a message from her on the answering service of my mobile phone: she would like to see me – but I was far away and I paid no importance to the message, because nothing urgent ever happens in small towns in the interior.

When I returned to the Pyrenees in December, I went to have lunch with Jacqueline. That is when I found out that Isabelle had died of a fulminating cancer.

That night I lit a fire in my garden. I remained all alone looking at the flames and thinking about a woman who had done nothing but good in her life and whom God had taken away so early. I did not weep, but I felt a deep love in the air, as if she were present all around me. Of the many people I have known in my life, one of the closest to saintliness was Isabelle Labaune.

On solitude

CaptureFor those who are not frightened by the solitude that reveals all mysteries, everything will have a different taste.

In solitude, they will discover the love that might otherwise arrive unnoticed. In solitude, they will understand and respect the love that left them.

In solitude, they will be able to decide whether it is worth asking that lost love to come back or if they should simply let it go and set off along a new path.

In solitude, they will learn that saying ‘No’ does not always show a lack of generosity and that saying ‘Yes’ is not always a virtue.

And those who are alone at this moment, need never be frightened by the words of the devil: ‘You’re wasting your time.’
Or by the chief demon’s even more potent words: ‘No one cares about you.’

The Divine Energy is listening to us when we speak to other people, but also when we are still and silent and able to accept solitude as a blessing.

And in that moment, Its light illumines everything around us and helps us to see that we are necessary, and that our presence on Earth makes a huge difference to Its work.

taken from “MANUSCRIPT FOUND IN ACCRA (now in paperback)

Change

 

Nature is telling us: ‘Change!’

And those who do not fear the Angel of Good Fortune understand that they must go forward, despite their fear.
Despite their doubts.
Despite recriminations.
Despite threats.

They confront their values and prejudices. They hear the advice of their loved ones, who say:
‘Why do that? You have everything you need: the love of your parents, your wife and your children, the job it took you so long to get. Don’t run the risk of becoming a stranger in a strange land.’

Nevertheless, they risk taking a first step, sometimes out of curiosity, sometimes out of ambition, but generally because they feel an uncontrollable longing for adventure.

At each bend in the road, they feel more and more afraid, and yet, at the same time, they surprise themselves: they are stronger and happier.
Joy. That is one of the main blessings of the All-Powerful. If we are happy, we are on the right road.

Despite their doubts.
Despite recriminations.
Despite threats.

taken from MANUSCRIPT FOUND IN ACCRA

30 sec reading: Inner beauty is not enough

Paulo CoelhoPeople always say: ‘It’s inner beauty that matters, not outer beauty.’
Well, that’s not true.

If it were, why would flowers put so much energy into attracting bees?
And why would raindrops transform themselves into a rainbow when they encounter the sun?

Because nature longs for beauty, and is only satisfied when beauty can be exalted. outer beauty is inner beauty made visible, and it manifests itself in the light that flows from our eyes.
It doesn’t matter if a person is badly dressed or doesn’t conform to our idea of elegance, or isn’t even concerned about impressing other people.

I am not talking about fashion, I am talking about the light that we all have inside.

The eyes are the mirror of the soul and reflect everything that seems to be hidden; and, like a mirror, they also reflect the person looking into them.
So if the person looking into someone’s eyes has a dark soul, he will see only his own ugliness.

Therefore I beg you:SHINE!

Beauty is present in all creation, but the danger lies in the fact that, because we human beings are often cut off from the Divine Energy, we allow ourselves to be influenced by what other people think.
We deny our own beauty because others can’t or won’t recognize it.

Instead of accepting ourselves as we are, we try to imitate what we see around us.

We try to be what other people think of as ‘pretty’ and, little by little, our soul fades, our will weakens, and all the potential we had to make the world a more beautiful place withers away.

taken from MANUSCRIPT FOUND IN ACCRA

In order to hear Love’s words

3655_coelhoIn order to hear Love’s words, you must allow Love to approach.

However, when it does draw near, we fear what it might say to us, because Love is free and is not ruled by our will or by what we do.

All lovers know this, but refuse to accept it. They think they can seduce Love through submission, power, beauty, wealth, tears and smiles.
True Love, however, is the love that seduces and will never allow itself to be seduced.

Love transforms, love heals.
But sometimes it lays deadly traps and ends up destroying the person who decided to surrender himself completely.

How can the force that moves the world and keeps the stars in their places be, at once, so creative and so devastating?

We are used to thinking that what we give is the same as what we receive, but people who love, expecting to be loved in return, are wasting their time.

Love is an act of faith, not an exchange.

Contradictions are what make love grow.
Conflicts are what allow love to remain by our side.

Random thoughts

by Camilla Stauton

 

We must learn to be the truest form of ourselves

To have immense love and passion above all else

I learnt so much not just about a country but also myself

I don’t want to change but I want to change the world

Be the change you wish to see in others

Ensure you remember these moments and don’t get lost in your own society

I feel so inspired making me want to be a better version of myself

I need more passion

Sometimes I wish time away but now I want every second to last my lifetime

Give me the chance to do something better each time I try

Don’t confuse my generosity with softness

To be happy in the innocence of not having first world problems

Not taking the photo captures the image in your soul

I want to be richer not in monetary terms but in my soul

All looking at different sides of the road but the image and feeling is the same

The kites a symbol of their freedom

Paralell universes collide

Celebration of life by engaging their senses through colours and smells

Not having just one god having many and within those god we are one.

The ability to dream the willingness to do

Seek the god within

Its not about the amount of time you spend together it is about what you do with that time

We are at once the same and worlds apart

History is written in the present and out future

Live in the front row

Do I know myself at all

Is our life the one we chose or did it chose us

There is a land far far away so steeped in religion in makes you want to pray

You will live in my dreams in the West while my heart lies in the east

To have an outlander moment when you touch a stone and enter another

Conversations with the Master : The tragedy

Paulo Coelho

Here I continue to reproduce excerpts from conversations with my master, from 1982 to 1986)

– Why is there so much tragedy and misery in the world?

– Tragedy and misery are different things, and very lengthy subjects. Which would you like to talk about first?

– At the moment, about tragedy. Why does man suffer?

– Read the Bible and you will find the following: “that which is good, comes from You, my Lord. That which is evil, also comes from You, my Lord. Therefore what is there to fear?”

– Nevertheless, we do suffer.

– Certainly. But take this into consideration: of every ten problems we have, nine are created by our own selves – through guilt, self-punishment, self-pity. However, from time to time a great obstacle appears in our path, which was put there by God, and which is there for a reason. The reason is: to give us the opportunity to change everything, to move forwards.

“What is tragedy? A radical change in our lives, always linked to the same principle: loss. Suffering is always the result of a loss, either someone or something – such as health, beauty, or one’s financial conditions.

“When faced with a loss, it is no use trying to recover what has gone. On the other hand, a great space has been opened up in your life – there it lies, empty, waiting to be filled with something new. At the moment of one’s loss, contradictory as this might seem, one is being given a large slice of freedom.

“But most men, when faced with tragedy, fill this space with pain and bitterness. They never think there may be other ways of facing the inevitable.”

– For example?

– Firstly, by learning the great lesson of wise men: patience, the certainty that everything – both good and bad – is provisional in this life. Secondly, using this sudden change of course to risk new things in daily life, to do things you always dreamed of.

– This is clear regarding material things. But what about someone’s death?

– We have spoken much about death, and you know that for the one who passes on, it does not exist – that person is enjoying the delights of a radical transformation. The sensation of death only exists for the one left here. Every dear person, upon departing, becomes our protector – after going through a period of longing, we should be joyful, since we are better protected. In the same way, one day we will be on the other side, protecting the people we love down here.

– And those we hate…

– Exactly as you imagine. They remain tied to us through the feeling of bitterness. That is why Jesus said: “before going to the temple, go back and forgive your brother.” One must be forever washing one’s soul with the water of forgiveness.

– But going back to tragedy…

– There is something which is impossible to measure: the intensity of pain. We know a person is suffering because they tell us, but we cannot evaluate exactly how much. We often try to compare someone’s attitude upon being faced by a tragedy, and we end up judging them to be stronger or weaker than they really are. Do not compare random pain with nothing; only the one suffering can know what he or she is going through.

“Therefore, when inevitable tragedy appears, we must remember these three things: to make the most of the freedom of loss, not to judge the pain, and to learn the art of patience. It will destroy 9/10 of that which you are, but the 1/10 which remains will make you an infinitely stronger person. ”

Welcome to Share with Friends – Free Texts for a Free Internet

Paying the double price

A camel dealer reached a village to sell fine animals at a very good price.

Everyone bought one, except Mr. Hoosep.

Some time later, the village received a visit from another dealer, with excellent camels, but they were much more expensive.

This time, Hoosep bought some animals.

“You did not buy the camels when they were almost for free, and now you pay almost double,” criticized his friends.

“Those cheap ones were very expensive for me, because at that time I had very little money,” answered Hoosep, “these animals might seem more expensive, but for me they are cheap, because I have more than enough to buy them.”

20 sec read: let me not beg for the stilling of my pain

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EM PORTUGUES> Não me deixe implorar para acalmar a minha dor
EN ESPANOL >> No me dejes pedir alivio para mi dolor

 

“Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers,
but to be fearless in facing them.

Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain,
but for the heart to conquer it.

Let me not look for allies in life’s battlefield,
but to my own strength.

Let me not crave in anxious fear to be saved,
but hope for the patience to win my freedom.

Grant that I may not be a coward,
feeling Your mercy in my success alone;

But let me find the grasp of Your hand in my failure.”

by Rabindranath Tagore

 

Happy 2018 and remember:

Like the sun, life spreads its light in all directions.

And when we are born, we want everything at once and cannot control the energy we have been given.

But, if we want to make a fire, we have to focus all the sun’s rays on one spot.

And the great secret that the Divine Energy revealed to the world was fire. Not just fire for burning, but the fire that transforms wheat into bread.

And there comes a moment when we need to focus that inner fire so that our life will have some meaning.

Then we ask the heavens: ‘But what meaning?’

Some immediately brush this question aside: it’s bothersome, it won’t let you sleep and there’s no easy answer. They are the ones who, later on, will live tomorrow as if it were yesterday.

And when the Unwanted Visitor arrives, they will say: ‘My life was too short, I squandered my blessing.’

 

Others embrace the question, but, since they don’t know the answer, they start to read what was written by those who have already faced up to the challenge. And suddenly, they find an answer which they judge to be correct.

When that happens, they become the slaves of that answer. They draw up laws intended to force others to accept what they believe to be the sole reason for existence. They build temples to justify it and courts for those who reject what they consider to be the absolute truth.

Finally, there are those who saw at once that the question was a trap: there is no answer.

Instead of wasting time grappling with that trap, they decide to act. They go back to their childhood and look for what filled them with enthusiasm then and – disregarding the advice of their elders – devote their life to it.

Because Enthusiasm is the Sacred Fire.

The test

by Houssaye

John Blanchard stood up from the bench, straightened his Army uniform, and studied the crowd of people making their way through Grand Central Station. He looked for the girl whose heart he knew, but whose face he didn’t, the girl with the rose. His interest in her had begun thirteen months before in a Florida library. Taking a book off the shelf he found himself intrigued, not with the words of the book, but with the notes penciled in the margin. The soft handwriting reflected a thoughtful soul and insightful mind.

In the front of the book, he discovered the previous owner’s name, Miss Holly Maynell. With time and effort he located her address. She lived in New York City. He wrote her a letter introducing himself and inviting her to correspond.
The next day he was shipped overseas for service in World War II. During the next year and one month, the two grew to know each other through the mail. Each letter was a seed falling on a fertile heart. A romance was budding. Blanchard requested a photograph, but she refused. She felt that if he really cared, it wouldn’t matter what she looked like
When the day finally came for him to return from Europe, they scheduled their first meeting – 7.00 p.m. at the Grand Central Station in New York.

“You’ll recognize me,” she wrote, “by the red rose I’ll be wearing on my lapel.” So at 7.00 p.m. he was in the station looking for a girl whose heart he loved, but whose face he’d never seen. I’ll let Mr. Blanchard tell you what happened:

A young woman was coming toward me, her figure long and slim. Her blonde hair lay back in curls from her delicate ears; her eyes were blue as flowers. Her lips and chin had a gentle firmness, and in her pale green suit she was like springtime come alive. I started toward her, entirely forgetting to notice that she was not wearing a rose. As I moved, a small provocative smile curved her lips. “Going my way, sailor?” she murmured.

Almost uncontrollably, I made one step closer to her, and then I saw Holly Maynell. She was standing almost directly behind the girl. A woman well past 40, she had graying hair tucked under a worn hat. She was more than plump, her thick-ankled feet thrust into low-heeled shoes. The girl in the green suit was walking quickly away. I felt as though I was split in two, so keen was my desire to follow her, and yet so deep was my longing for the woman whose spirit had truly companioned me and upheld my own.

And there she stood. Her pale, plump face was gentle and sensible, her gray eyes had a warm and kindly twinkle. I did not hesitate. My fingers gripped the small worn blue leather copy of the book that was to identify me to her.

This would not be love, but it would be something precious, something perhaps even better than love, a friendship for which I had been and must ever by grateful. I squared my shoulders and saluted and held out the book to the woman, even though while I spoke I felt choked by the bitterness of my disappointment. “I’m Lieutenant John Blanchard, and you must be Miss Maynell. I am so glad you could meet me; may I take you to dinner?” The woman’s face broadened into a tolerant smile. “I don’t know what this is about, son,” she answered, “but the young lady in the green suit who just went by, she begged me to wear this rose on my coat. And she said if you were to ask me out to dinner, I should tell you that she is waiting for you in the big restaurant across the street. She said it was some kind of test!”

Christmas prayer

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EM PORTUGUES: Os ví­cios pessoais
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At a certain point during my pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, we came to a flat, monotonous field of wheat stretching all the way to the horizon. The only thing breaking the dull landscape was a medieval column with a cross on top, marking the pilgrims’ way. Petrus – my guide – put down his backpack and knelt down.

Have pity on those who pity themselves, and think life has been unjust to them – for they will never manage to engage in the Good Fight.
But have more pity on those who are cruel to themselves, and can only see evil in their own acts, and who consider themselves guilty for the injustices of the world. For they know not Your law which says: even the strands of hair on your head have been counted.

Have pity on those who command and those who serve many hours of work, and sacrifice themselves in exchange for a Sunday, when everything is closed and there is nowhere to go.
But have more pity on those who sanctify their work and go beyond the limits of their own madness, and end up in debt or nailed to the cross by their own brothers. For they know not Your law which says: be as prudent as a serpent and as simple as the pigeons.

Have pity on those who eat, drink and are merry, but are unhappy and lonely in their abundance.
But have more pity on those who fast, censure, forbid and feel saintly, and who preach Your name in public places. For they know not Your law which says: if I testify about myself, my testimony is not true.

Have pity on those who fear Death and do not know the many kingdoms they have crossed and the many deaths they have died, and are unhappy because they think that everything will come to an end one day.
But have more pity on those who have known their many deaths and think they are immortal, for they know not Your law which says: he who is not born again may not see the kingdom of God.

Have pity on those who cannot see anyone but themselves, and are shut in their limousines, locked in their air conditioned penthouse offices, and suffer in silence the solitude of power.
But have pity on those who go without everything, and are charitable, and seek to overcome evil with love only, for they know not Your law which says: he who has no sword, may he sell his cloak and buy one.

Have pity on us, Lord. For we often think we are dressed when we are naked, we think we commit a crime and in reality save someone. Do not forget, in Your mercy, that we unsheathe the sword with the hand of an angel and the hand of a demon gripping the same hilt. For we are in the world, we continue in the world and need You. We always need Your law which says: when I sent you without bag, pouch or sandals, you lacked nothing.

Petrus stopped praying. The silence continued. He was gazing at the wheat field around us.

(in THE PILGRIMAGE )