Stories & Reflections
By Paulo Coelho
The man arrived at the monastery exhausted:
– I have been looking for God for so long – he said. – Perhaps you can teach me the right way of finding Him.
– Enter and see our convent – said the priest, taking him by the hand and leading him to the chapel. – Here are some fine works of art of the 16th century, which portray the life of the Lord, and His glory among men.
The man waited, while the priest explained each one of the beautiful paintings and sculptures which adorned the chapel.
Afterwards, he repeated the question:
– Everything you showed me is very beautiful. But I’d like to learn the best way to find God.
– God! – replied the priest. – You said exactly that: God!
And he took the man to the refectory, where supper was being prepared for the monks.
– Look around: soon supper will be served, and you are invited to dine with us. You will be able to listen to the Scriptures, while you satisfy your hunger.
– I am not hungry, and I have already read the entire Scriptures – insisted the man. – I wish to learn. I have come here to find God.
Again the priest took the stranger by the hand and they began walking around the cloisters which encircled a lovely garden.
– I ask my monks to always keep the grass cut, and to remove the dry leaves from the fountain you see over there in the middle. I think this must be the best kept monastery in the whole region.
The stranger walked with the priest a short way, then excused himself, saying he must be leaving.
– Won’t you stay for supper? asked the priest.
As he mounted his horse, the stranger spoke:
– Congratulations on your fine church, your welcoming refectory and the perfectly clean courtyard. But I have journeyed many leagues just in order to learn to find God, and not to marvel at efficiency, comfort and discipline.
A flash of lightening struck, the horse reared up and the earth shook. Suddenly, the strange man removed his disguise, and the priest saw that it was Jesus.
– God is wherever He is invited in – said Jesus. – But you have closed the doors of this monastery to Him, with rules, pride, wealth, ostentation. The next time a stranger comes asking to find God, do not show him what you have managed in His name: listen to the question, and try to answer with love, charity and simplicity.
And so saying, He disappeared.
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