THE BLACKSMITH – A Prayer in “The Witch of Portobello”

The Witch of Portobello

Extracts from “The Witch of Portobello” a novel by Paulo Coelho


The unworked steel arrives in my workshop

And I have to transform it into
- Parts of Cars,
- Agricultural Machinery,
- Kitchen Utensils.

“You have to make conscious and determined efforts to be positive.”

DO YOU KNOW HOW IT IS DONE?

I heat the metal until it is red-hot

Then I beat it mercilessly with my heaviest hammer until the metal takes on the form I need

Then I plunge it into a bucket of cold water and the whole workshop is filled with the roar of the steam

While the metal sizzles and crackles in response to the sudden change of temperature

I have to keep repeating the process until the object I am making is perfect

Once is not enough

Sometimes the steel I get simply can’t withstand such treatment

- Heat,
- The hammer blows,
- The cold water

Cause it to break

And I know that I’ll never be able to make it into a good ploughshare or an engine shaft

Then I throw it on a PILE OF SCRAP METAL at the entrance of my forge

I KNOW THE GOD IS PUTTING ME THROUGH FIRE OF AFFLICTION (PAIN, SUFFERING)

I’VE ACCEPTED THE BLOWS THAT THE LIFE HAS DEALT ME,

AND

SOMETIMES I FEEL AS COLD AS INDIFFERENT AS THE WATER IN THE BUCKET THAT INFLICTS SUCH PAIN ON STEEL

BUT MY ONE PRAYER IS THIS:


PLEASE, GOD, MY MOTHER

DON’T GIVE UP UNTIL I’VE TAKEN THE SHAPE THAT YOU WISH FOR ME

DO THIS WHATEVER MEANS YOU WISH THE BEST, FOR AS LONG AS YOU LIKE

BUT NEVER EVER THROW ME ON THE SCRAP HEAP OF SOULS

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“Troubles are like washing machine; 
They twist, turn and knock us around; 
But in the end we come out brighter than before”


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