“To die alive is to take risks. To pay your price. To do something that scares you…”
I came across these words from an interview with author Paulo Coelho in The Alchemist — a book that synchronistically showed up right in the middle of my difficult discernment process.
In his interview, as well as in the fictional tale of Santiago, the shepherd boy and hero of The Alchemist, Coelho describes what it means to live fully alive before we die. Of what it means to be willing to take risks. To open our hearts and be vulnerable. To venture forward into the unknown. Yes, we feel scared, but we do it anyway. Because that’s what it means to follow our “personal legend.” A calling we hear deep in our hearts that results in the finding of our true treasure.
Most of us are afraid to do this. I know I was — at least before I started out on this journey. But each day I seem to be growing stronger, more courageous. And certainly more trusting, of God and of myself.
Because as I listen in the silence, I can hear my Heart speak. And when I follow that guidance, despite my fears of what might happen, I find that I’m given what I need to continue. Again and again. Just as the alchemist tells Santiago in the desert:
“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity.”
Every second is an encounter with God. That’s what I have been discovering as I’ve listened and paid attention. Grace is in all of it.
That became even clearer over these past several days as the end of my time in San Antonio draws near. I feel the sadness of leaving behind this ministry with Incarnate Word Missionaries. Of letting go of a commitment I made and of people who have become dear to me. It’s not easy. Nor has it been easy to deal with the challenges I’ve faced. And the challenges that I know are ahead in El Paso.
Last Friday I met with Sr. Brigid, my spiritual companion while I’ve been in San Antonio. I tell her she has been my light. Someone who listens and supports and says, using only a few words, exactly what is most helpful.
In turn, she tells me things I need to hear. That I am a strong woman. That my faith and my journey are “remarkable,” considering everything I’ve faced here and, how, rather than go home, I’m still willing to go forward in trust. I hear her affirming me in a way that I need right now. It’s one of those encounters with the Holy. It both humbles me and shines the light on my treasure a little more brightly.
On Saturday as I’m moving out of the apartment, the director of the program calls me from Mexico City. She’s clearly concerned about how I’m feeling and what’s in store for me. She knows I’m going to El Paso with no certainty of what I’ll be doing and how I’ll manage. She says there is a place for me if I choose to stay. Her care for me touches my heart, and I realize the impact I have had. Simply by being myself and following my heart. Another encounter.
Then, last night I received a call with a completely unexpected and humbling offer. My concerns going forward to El Paso were addressed in an amazing way. I didn’t know how to respond. I hung up the phone in tears. A major encounter with the Holy.
I’m shown once again how the Universe really does provide when you follow your heart’s intention for the highest good. Just as Santiago was promised. And just as I have been telling myself. Because throughout this journey my mantra has been: “I have everything I need as I follow the path of my Higher Self.”
This remarkable journey is proving exactly that. With every encounter. As I listen to my heart.