Paulo Coelho

Stories & Reflections

1 Min reading: unanswered questions (ENG, ESPA, PORT)

Author: Paulo Coelho


PORTUGUES: Perguntas sem resposta

ESPANOL: Preguntas sin respuesta


Climbing up a track in the Pyrenees in search of somewhere to practice archery, I came upon a small French army camp, where I met a colonel who asks me if I am the writer. And then, getting over his almost visible shyness, he tells me that he too has written a book and begins to explain me the curious genesis of his work.

He and his wife made donations for a leper child who originally lived in India but was later transferred to France. One fine day, curious to meet the little girl, they went to the convent where the nuns took care of the child. One of the nuns asked if he would help in the spiritual education of the group of children who lived there. Jean Paul Sétau (the officer’s name) said that he had no experience teaching the catechism but that he would give it some thought and ask God what he should do.

That night, after saying his prayers, he heard the answer: “instead of offering answers, try to find out what the children want to ask.”

From then on Sétau had the idea of visiting several schools, asking children for the questions to be put in writing, so that the more timid among the pupils would lose their fear of exposing themselves.

Here are some of them:

Where do we go after we die?

Why are we afraid of strangers?

Are there extra-terrestrial beings?

Why do accidents happen even to people who believe in God?

Why are we born, if in the end we die?

Who invented war and happiness?

Does the Lord also listen to those who do not believe in the same (Catholic) God?

Why are there poor and sick people?

Why did God create mosquitoes and flies?

Why isn’t the guardian angel close by when we are sad?

Why do we love some people and hate others?

Who gave names to the colors?

If God is in heaven and my mother is up there too because she died, how can He be alive?

I hope that some teachers or parents who read feel stimulated to do the same thing. In that way, instead of trying to impose our adult understanding of the universe, we will end up remembering some of our questions as children – and which were never really answered.

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