Stories & Reflections
By Paulo Coelho
In his book El Libro del Fantasma, Alejandro Dolina associates the story of sand to one of the creation legends of the Arab people.
He writes that, as soon as they had finished building the world, one of the angels pointed out to the Almighty that they had forgotten to put sand on Earth; a serious mistake, considering that humans would be forever deprived of walking alongside the seas, massaging their tired feet and enjoying the feel of the ground.
Apart from that, the river beds would always be jagged and rocky, and architects could not use this vital material, the footsteps of lovers would be invisible; in order to remedy the situation, God sent the Archangel Gabriel with a great bag, in order to pour sand in all the places necessary.
Gabriel made the beaches, the river beds, and when he returned to heaven carrying what was left over, the Enemy – always alert, always ready to ruin the work of the Almighty – managed to bore a hole in the bag, which split, spilling its entire contents. This happened in the place we now call Arabia, and almost the entire region became a vast desert.
Gabriel was distressed and went to apologize to the Lord, for having allowed the Enemy to come near him unnoticed. And God, in His infinite wisdom, decided to compensate the Arab people for His messenger’s involuntary error.
He made them a sky filled with stars, like no other in the whole world, so that they should always look up.
He created the turban, which – under the desert sun – is worth more than a crown.
He created the tent, allowing people to move from one place to another, and continually be surrounded by new landscapes, and without the annoying obligations of maintaining palaces.
He taught the people to forge the best steel for making swords. He made the camel. He formed the finest race of horses.
And he gave them something even more precious than all the other things together: the word, the true gold of all Arabs. While other peoples shaped metal and stone, the people of Arabia learned to shape the word.
There, the poet became the high priest, the judge, doctor, chief of the Bedouins. His verses are powerful: they can bring joy, sadness, health. They can unfurl acts of revenge and war, unite lovers and reproduce the songs of birds.
Alejandro Dolina concludes:
“The errors of God, like those of great artists, or of true lovers, bring forth so many joyful rewards, that at times it is worth wishing for them.”
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