I had wanted to make this certain point in my discussions with Silviu: Too many coincidences have become entangled into the story of my life for me to actually consider them coincidences. Silviu is, as I mentioned before, is a self-professed atheist or agnostic (depending upon how you look at it). And, as I also mentioned, we consistently found ourselves delving into debates about spirituality, religion, humanity and God. And I must say, Silviu has given his arguments a lot of thought. I didn’t always have an answer for him. Although, sometimes I knew there was an answer… I just didn’t yet have the ideas in which to properly articulate them to someone who doesn’t possess the faith that I do. Nonetheless, the foundation of my spirituality was left, admittedly, a little shaken after my conversations with Silviu. Shaken, but still standing. Personally, I cannot deny the Heaven that I know lies beyond the veil of cynicism that lies over modern society. As a Tengri Mongolian put it in one of Paolo Coelho’s novels, The Zahir: “Welcome to the place where we say the sky is blue even when it’s gray, because we know that the color is still there above the clouds.”
And then, as if in a special, reassuring gesture, another coincidence materialized before my eyes. The moment I grasped it, I was also able to grasp how recent events had to occur and recent decisions had to made just as they happened or else the “coincidence” would have been lost to me:
When I flew to Munich, I had the option of trying to find a couch to surf for one night or to move on to Graz. I did have time to just continue on my way. But, for reasons I wasn’t quite sure of, I decided to stay in Munich. ‘Get some rest after my flight,’ I thought. It’s because I stayed at Martin’s in Munich that I discovered The Zahir. Oddly enough, the Zahir was one of the few books in English on Martin’s bookshelf. Paolo Coelho was the author, so I was immediately interested, because the two books of his I had already read greatly affected me. Even though I knew I wouldn’t finish before I left, I began reading the book. Unsurprisingly, this book, like the others, began impacting me greatly. Then I had to go, and leave the book unfinished. I really don’t like leaving things unfinished.
Upon my arrival in Graz, I learned that Claudia is struggling with some personal issues. Immediately, I thought of the book. From what I had read so far, I thought The Zahir would have some excellent insight into what Claudia was facing at the moment. So, I made it a point to purchase her a copy in German. I also picked up a copy for myself in English. Now, I would get to finish it! Claudia, also a big fan of Paolo, insisted that I should buy a copy of one of his novels that she had read, the Witch of Portobello. She said I would identify with it just as much as she did. (Claudia and I have already realized we are cut from the same cloth, though, there is a bit of a difference with the pattern we are weaving with it.) Claudia had also already purchased Into the Wild for me. So, after finishing the Zahir, I tackled Into the Wild, saving The Witch of Portobello for last. I had just finished Into the Wild when I arrived in Salzburg and met Silviu, my Translyvanian host. Although, the Dracula/vampire myth was created by an Irish man who had never been to Transylvania, I still thought it was interesting that the Transylvanian I met was passionate about death metal and, often enough, spent time in dark, underground dives. (Now, I’ve already described how this is just one element of Silviu’s complex character. There’s a good deal more to his personality that veers away from death metal and dark, underground dives. He’s a great guy!)
And finally to the point of all this, after extensive, challenging debates with Silviu, I finally crack open The Witch of Portobello on the train from Salzburg, Austria to Bern, Switzerland. Page three reveals the opening setting: Transylvania. Page three also reveals the main plot: there is a world of energy and magic beyond that of our everyday existence… a world of spirituality and God. Thus, by page three, the Witch of Portobello was already making an argument against what I had been hearing from Silviu: “that anything science cannot explain has no right to exist.” Another suggested point of Silviu’s was the apparent need for all those who are spiritual to “force” their spirituality upon others. On page five of the Witch of Portobello I read: “No one lights a lamp in order to hide it behind a door. The purpose of light is to create more light, to open people’s eyes, to reveal the marvels around.” Hence, the inherent quality of spirituality (so often likened to light) is to share its energy. That same idea is echoed in Luke 11:33, the verse that opens Paolo’s book: “No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light.” It’s the nature of belief to shine upon those who don’t believe.
So as you see, it could have been just a mere coincidence that the plot of the Witch of Portobello is rooted in Transylvania and that a Transylvanian had just hosted me. It could also have been just a mere coincidence that the book in question also tackled the very issues my Transylvanian host and I debated. But, then, when you consider the intricate complexity it took for that “coincidence” to even take place, you realize… there is simply too much design behind the event, to call it a mere “coincidence.”
And another thing to ponder… I was struck with the desire of wanting to meet Paolo Coelho. Interestingly enough, despite my lifelong love of reading and writing, I can remember only one other time I had actually wanted to meet a writer in the flesh. When I was young, I wanted to meet Jack London. But, unfortunately, he had already passed. Paolo, on the other hand, is still alive and well and still writing. Just a couple days ago I had a tentative invite from a friend to plan a trip to South America this summer. Paolo is from Brazil. Hmmm… just a though. Could be nothing. The SA trip might not even happen. But still… the parallels are too strong to ignore.