Picture copyright © Niels Ackermann

Paulo Coelho
author (Rio de Janeiro, BRAZIL)

Men and women of goodwill — such as doctors, nurses, volunteers and many others — will appear in our lives and in the life of the community at the right moment…

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I’m going, I don’t see the road ahead of me,” said Trappist monk Thomas Merton, in his book, Thoughts in Solitude (*), where he reflects on loneliness.

We must first accept
Suddenly, the whole world seems to be forced to think about these words of Merton. No matter how much we want take a course or a path; a goal, or even a guide to take us on unknown paths, what we must understand is that if we want to know our destiny, it is necessary to accept.

Invisible enemy
We thought we had all the answers, and then the questions changed. We felt safe in our bubbles and comfort zones, and then the invisible enemy penetrated them.

Fate comes knocking
Fate is knocking on the door of everyone on the planet, like that angel who came during the plagues of Egypt and entered the houses that had not been marked, decimating the firstborn.

Universe governed by unknown laws
We cannot convince him (Fate) that we are doing well; our universe is in order, that we have never harmed anyone. It remains for us to learn how to use this pandemic to reflect on our life until now.

Let us appreciate the little things again, because even if the authorities say that this will pass, no one knows for sure when, or if it will be replaced by something worse! Give importance to family life. Have enough humility to accept that the universe is governed by laws that we cannot understand.

Pay attention to signs
Let’s value now, more than ever, the love of those who love us. Help, whenever possible, those who have no one to turn to. There will always be a hand to guide us whenever we are straying from our path — all we need to do is pay attention to the signs that surround us.

And please note that I am not talking about God, but about women and men of goodwill, who, at the right moment, will appear in our life (and in the life of the community). Men and women — such as doctors, nurses, volunteers and many others — whom we are paying attention to only now, although they are so important!

Let’s ‘appear’ in other people’s life
Let us pay attention – as did the king of history – to these signs. May we also appear in other people’s lives, especially those who need us, without asking too much, to just generously share our human condition with them.

(*Written by Trappist monk Thomas Merton — January 31, 1915 to December 10, 1968 — Lines from from his book, Thoughts in Solitude (1958). Merton was a great contemporary mystic – a writer, theologian, poet, social activist and scholar of comparative religion)

The full prayer:
My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that, if I do this,
You will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore I will trust you always
though I may seem to be lost
and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.)

(Paulo Coelho de Souza is a Brazilian lyricist and novelist. He wrote the best-selling novel, The Alchemist, which has sold more than 85 million copies and is the most translated book in the world by a living author; it has been translated into 82 languages and has spent more than 427 consecutive weeks on the The New York Times bestseller list.

He has sold over 320 million books in his lifetime. In 2014, he uploaded his personal papers online to create a virtual Paulo Coelho Foundation.

When Coelho was 38 years old, he had a spiritual awakening in Spain and wrote about it in his first book, The Pilgrimage. It was his second book, The Alchemist, which made him famous. He now writes about one book every two years.  His most recent book was Hippie, which was released in 2018.)