Today’s Solutions: June 16, 2024

Three stories about dealing with loss.

Paulo Coelho | May 2009 issue

When life makes us face difficult situations—such as a personal loss—we have to understand that eternity is taking one more step. Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges wrote something beautiful about this:
You are cloud, sea, forgetting; you are also what you lost in a moment — we are all those who have left. The reflection of our face in the mirror changes each instant and every day has its own labyrinth. The cloud vanishing in the sunset is our image; endlessly, a rose becomes another rose. I personally hate the dilemma of loss, but at times there is no solution and it just has to be faced. What follows are some stories dealing with this topic.
A man made a promise to carry a cross to the top of a mountain if a certain wish of his was satisfied. God granted the man what he asked for.
He had the cross made, and he set out on his climb. After a few days he found the cross weighed more than he had reckoned—and so he borrowed a saw to cut off a large section of the wood. On reaching the top of the mountain, he noticed that, separated from it by a gulf, there was another mountain. Over on the other side, everything was peace and tranquility, but he needed a bridge to get there. He tried to use the cross, but it was a little too short. Then he realized that the piece he’d sawed off was exactly what he would have needed to enable him to cross the abyss.
In a certain village in Umbria, Italy, there lived a man who was always bewailing his lot. He was a Christian, and found the weight of his cross too heavy to bear.
One night, before going to bed, he begged God to let him change his burden. That night he had a dream; the Lord led him to a warehouse. “Go ahead and change it,” he said. The man saw crosses of all sizes and shapes, bearing their owners’ names. He picked an average size cross—but when he saw an old friend’s name on it, he set it aside.
Finally, as God had permitted, he chose the smallest cross he could find. To his surprise, he saw his own name written on it.
A famous guru lived in Mesure, India. He managed to gather many followers, and spread his wisdom generously.
When he reached middle age, he contracted malaria, but religiously continued to fulfill his ritual: bathing in the morning, giving classes at midday and praying in the temple during the afternoon.
When fever and tremors prevented him from concentrating, he took off the upper part of his garments and tossed them in a corner. His power was such that the clothes continued to tremble—while he, free from any contractions, was able to say his prayers in peace.
When he finished, he put on his clothes again, and the symptoms returned.
“Why don’t you give up those clothes once and for all, and get rid of the sickness?” asked a journalist who saw the miracle.
“It is already a blessing to be able to do calmly what I have to do,” answered the man. “The rest is part of life; it would be cowardly not to accept it.”
Paulo Coelho is the Brazilian author
of international bestsellers, including The Alchemist.

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