God met me where He knew I would listen.
It has been a while since I read a book in one weekend. It was an easy read but two things: 1) I didn't get through other easy reads such as "The Fault in our Stars" or a Harry Potter book that quickly and 2) I was out all day Saturday and half of Sunday. So where did I find the time and energy to read??
Well let's take a few steps back. I bought this book back in 2009 in the Philippines. I had no idea what it was about, but I bought it blindly because I love Paulo Coelho's writing. He hooked me from "The Alchemist" but continues to string me along through his Tweets and blog posts. I saw it and thought I could read it on the flight back to the states but actually never got to it.
Last week, I thought of the book. I know it sounds strange, but I really felt the Holy Spirit leading me as I found it on my shelf and thought I should read it. Now as to not spoil the story, I will just say that reading the synopsis on the back cover intrigued me. I had a feeling the characters would speak to me, and sure enough they did.
From Paulo Coelho, author of the international bestseller The Alchemist, comes a poignant, richly poetic story that reflects the depth of love and life.
Rarely does adolescent love reach its full potential, but what happens when two young lovers reunite after eleven years? Time has transformed Pilar into a strong and independent woman, while her devoted childhood friend has grown into a handsome and charismatic spiritual leader. She has learned well how to bury her feelings . . . and he has turned to religion as a refuge from his raging inner conflicts.
Now they are together once again, embarking on a journey fraught with difficulties, as long-buried demons of blame and resentment resurface after more than a decade. But in a small village in the French Pyrenees, by the waters of the River Piedra, a most special relationship will be reexamined in the dazzling light of some of life's biggest questions.
I don't want this to be a book review, nor do I want to ruin the story for my fellow avid readers. I really encourage you to pick it up and read it someday, because the story was simple yet very meaningful. Perhaps it was more meaningful to me because I could relate to the story strongly, perhaps it will be meaningful to you because it is written well. I do want to say that I was affirmed in so many ways that I was meant to read this book. Even a few details affirmed me: a love for Mother Mary, encouraging a life in the Holy Spirit, and the story taking place around the feast of the Immaculate Conception. These small nuggets were gold in my time of reading. Lately I've been seeking for some direct answers, and God met me where He knew I wanted to be found...in a book. I didn't need to read between the lines, some of the answers were written right there - straight up, black ink on a white page.
I do want to share some thoughts I picked up as it relates to my life and a blog I had been delaying to post. I've actually been wanting to write on something about this the past few weeks, but I didn't have the courage to write it. Why? Because I have a feeling I'm about to be a bit vulnerable. Why is it that when a girl talks about the "desires of her heart", it's as if she's letting her guard down and someone is about to crush her dreams? Can I write with caution yet at the same time be open enough to share about a hope in life? Back to the book...
"To love is to lose control"
I'm not saying I'm in love, but the idea of it possibly lurking around the corner some day can be a bit frightening. The main character, Pilar, fights herself. She is fighting a potential love that she wants to share with an old friend, but she is trying to be realistic. She wants to be in control of her heart. She would prefer to go back to an easier life and find a husband in her hometown. She doesn't want to fall for someone who could leave the next day, based on the life he was living.
On the feast of St. Pope JPII, I read something he said: "There is no place for selfishness and no place for fear. Do not be afraid, then, when love makes demands. Do not be afraid when love requires sacrifice." Yes, you lose control of what you think would make up the perfect love, but no one thinks of sacrifice and being selfless first. Everyone focuses on how the love will help them. How does this love cure me? Love cures all...you and the one you love. You can fight it all you want, but as JPII states, "Do not be afraid." Don't be afraid to lose control. Don't be afraid of changing a life you once knew to help build one that will only make the world a better place. Don't be afraid to make sacrifices for the one you love. It might liberate you.
"I observed the woman I had been up until then; weak but trying to give the impression of strength. Fearful of everything but telling herself it wasn't fear - it was the wisdom of someone who knew what reality was."
If I said I couldn't relate to this, I'd be lying not only to you but to myself. Fear can come from an experience we feel resulted in failure. We think we want to learn and grow but sometimes that keeps us from taking any more risks in life. Gotta play it "smart". We want to prevent pain and chaos because nobody wants that. Nobody asks for that. If you can find a way to avoid it, avoid it. However, just because you know reality doesn't mean you know the future. Let me rephrase. Just because I know reality doesn't mean I know the future. I can be wrong sometimes :)
"We will only understand the miracle of life fully when we allow the unexpected to happen."
That's what began to change my heart. We have to allow the unexpected to happen. Things don't make sense in my life right now and part of me wishes I could go back and take control of my life and emotions again...but it's too late. Certain situations happen and things change. Once you let love in, all bets are off.
The unexpected has happened and now I have to learn to deal with it. I have to be okay with the risk I was willing to take at the time and not regret an opportunity to let "love nourish my existence." So now I need courage. I have been praying for courage. I've been inspired to seek courage. I am not the kind of girl that needs the courage to let go. That's easy. That's the life I know. I'm the type that needs the courage to hang in there and keep going. If I see a situation where I can avoid a potential disaster, I'll detour quickly...typically to an end. However, I've recently learned that I need to keep going even if it leads me to a dead end. It's all about the experience on the road and not letting myself think I'm wasting my time traveling.
"Thy will be done"
Mother Mary understands the mystery of total surrender. I've learned that in my devotions and consecrations to her. I've learned that in reading about her. I've learned that once again in this book. Pilar prays and ends with this simple line that I need to carry with me everywhere I go.
So to answer my question from the first paragraph of where I found the time to read this weekend, the answer would truly be "from the grace of God". He is God of time and strength, so He blessed me with both to speak to me and answer some questions I had.
I specifically told Him to give it to me straight, and per usual, He answered me. I still have some discerning and reflecting to do, but in the meantime I will go with Pilar's prayer and trust our Mother and Father heard me.