Stories & Reflections
By Paulo Coelho
This story is a free adaptation of “Come and Follow Me” by Paul H. Dunn:
A certain man called Mogo used to see Christmas as a feast without the least sense to it. In his mind, the night of the 24th December was the saddest of the year, because many people realized how lonely they were or remembered their dearly beloved who had died during the past year.
Mogo was a good man. He had a family, tried to help his neighbor and was honest in his business. However, he refused to admit that people were so naive as to believe that God had descended to Earth just to console men. Being a person of principles, he was not afraid to tell one and all that Christmas, besides being sad rather than happy, was also based on a story that was not real – a God transformed into man.
As always on the eve of the celebration of the birth of Christ, his wife and children were getting ready to go to church. And as always, Mogo decide to let them go alone, saying:
– It would be hypocritical of me to accompany you. I’ll be here waiting for you to come back.
When the family left the house, Mogo sat down on his favorite chair, lit the fire and began to read the day’s newspapers. But he was soon distracted by a noise at the window, then another and yet another.
Thinking it was someone throwing snowballs, Mogo slipped into his coat and went outside hoping to give the trespasser a fright.
As soon as he opened the door he saw a flock of birds that had lost their direction due to a storm and were now shivering in the snow. Noticing the warm house, they had tried to enter, but then they hurt their wings beating against the window and would only be able to fly again when they healed.
“I can’t leave these creatures outside there,” thought Mogo. “How can I help them?”
Mogo went to the garage door, opened it and turned on the light. But the birds did not move.
“They’re afraid,” thought Mogo.
He went back indoors, fetched some breadcrumbs and made a trail to the heated garage. But the strategy did not work.
Mogo opened his arms, tried to lead the birds with affectionate cries, softly pushing one and then another, but the birds became all the more nervous and began to beat their wings flying around in the snow without any direction, wasting the little strength they still had left.
Mogo no longer knew what to do.
– You must be thinking that I’m some scary creature, he said out loud. – Don’t you understand that you can trust me?
He shouted out in despair:
– If at this very moment I had a chance to turn into a bird just for a couple of minutes, then you would see that I’m really trying to save you!
At that moment the church bell chimed midnight. One of the birds transformed into an angel and asked Mogo:
– Now do you understand why God needed to turn into a man?
With his eyes filled with tears, Mogo knelt down on the snow and answered:
– Pardon me, angel. Now I understand that we can only trust those that resemble us and live through the same things as we do.
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