This I Believe

Monica - Tulsa, Oklahoma
Entered on January 31, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

I have a strong passion for books and reading. I especially have a passion for books that move me, make me think about the world, or laugh out loud. This past Christmas I received a book that changed my life. It was called The Alchemists by Paulo Coelho. It is the story about a shepherd boy who decides to leave behind his comfortable life to seek a treasure in Egypt he continuously has dreams about. Along the way he run into a king disguised as a poor man and tells the shepherd boy about seeking his personal legend and following the omens laid out for him. His journey is difficult with many twists and surprises, but the greatest treasure he receives is the education by an Alchemist who tells the boy to listen to what his heart has to say, and also watch and listen for where the omens are directing him. The story is beautiful with meaning behind every sentence.

I was brought up Roman Catholic. I went to Mass every Sunday, said grace before I ate, and received a full Catholic education through high school. Yet, I struggled more with my beliefs than anyone else in my family and group of friends. However, there was one person who dramatically changed my view on religion and finding my personal beliefs, or my personal legend. His name was St. Augustine. His story of trouble, passionate affairs, and struggle to find his beliefs in his autobiography, The Confessions, overwhelmed me with comfort, because I knew it was okay to be confused. St. Augustine followed signs that showed up in his life to eventually lead him to faith. In his deepest struggles to find faith he heard children chanting, “Tolle Lege, Tolle Lege,” meaning pick up and read, and when he went into a secluded garden he found the Bible on a bench and discovered St. Paul’s epistles.

St. Augustine’s story had a great impact upon me, yet, until I read Coelho’s story, I feel I could not have written down what I believe. Now I can. This is what I believe. I believe in signs, omens, and symbols that help guide us on the right path. I believe in a power greater than us, constantly extending its hand to help us follow our path and find what we are searching for. Signs are all around us, but we have to be aware and looking for them, and willing accept that we might not understand them right away. There is a reason why I love books. I also believe there is a reason why I read The Confessions in high school, and received The Alchemist: to help me better understand my personal beliefs. I did not understand at the time the impact those books would have on me, but I can see my beliefs in a clearer perspective because of them. My beliefs are not complete yet, but I know that I have signs to point me in the right direction.