I had heard of Paulo Coelho before listening to Krista Tippett’s On Being podcast The Alchemy of Pilgrimage, but I had never read any of his books. We were at Costco the other day and I saw The Alchemist on sale so I had to buy it. I’m reading two other books at the moment so it will have to wait, but tonight I read the foreword hoping to be inspired so I would have something to write about for this post. Mr. Coelho did not disappoint me. Here is the closing of his foreword:
When I read about clashes, cultural clashes–I am reminded that it is within our power to build a bridge to be crossed. Even if my neighbor doesn’t understand my religion or understand my politics, he can understand my story. If he can understand my story, then he’s never too far from me. It is always within my power to build a bridge. There is always a chance for reconciliation, a chance that one day he and I will sit around a table together and put an end to our history of clashes. And on this day, he will tell me his story and I will tell him mine.
It is in the meeting of the other, that we discover ourselves. We all have dreams and desires and insecurities. We must take the time to really listen to each other’s stories. We might be surprised by what we hear.