Once upon a time, a pious old man said to God, “God, look how faithfully I’ve served you all my life, right?”  Of course, he heard no answer.

“Right,” said he to himself. “Now, I’ve never asked you for anything, right?”

“Right,” said he, talking on behalf of God, of course.  And he said, “Now, I’m going to ask you for just once favour and you can’t say no to me.  All my life I’ve served you, I’ve observed the law, I’ve kept the rites.  I’ve done good to people, I’ve observed your commandments.  Just do me this one favour:  Let me win the lottery, and then I can retire in peace and security.”

So he was convinced that God would grant him his desire, and he waited and waited and waited.  And he kept on praying every night.  After six months, nothing had happened.  And then one night, in sheer frustration, he yelled: “God, give me a break. let me win the lottery.”

And imagine the fright he got when he heard a voice reply, “Give me a break yourself.  Buy s ticket.”

Source | Anthony de Mello, Rediscovering Life. Pages 104-105



A devout religious man fell on hard times. So he took to praying in the following fashion: “Lord, remember all the years I served you as best as I could, asking for nothing in return. Now that I am old and bankrupt I am going to ask you for a favour for the first time in my life and I am sure you will not say No: allow me to win the lottery”

Days passed. Then weeks and months. But nothing happened. Finally,almost driven to despair, he cried out one night, “Why don’t you give me a break, God?”

He suddenly heard the voice of God replying, ” Give me a break yourself! Why don’t you buy a lottery ticket?”

Source | Anthony de MelloThe Prayer Of The Frog. Page 52
or in the US edition, Taking Flight., page 104


  • Did you buy your ticket? Are you expecting magic or are you responsible enough to daily do your part?


No one could really say why he ran away. Or perhaps he didn’t, but was kicked out of his home by his father for something foolish that he said or did. Either way, Paco found himself wandering the streets of Madrid, Spain with hopes of entering into a profession that would most likely get him killed – bullfighting. Those who train under a mentor have a good chance of surviving this profession, but Paco’s memory of his mistakes and guilt over what happened blindly drove him to this one way street to suicide.

But that was the last thing his father wanted, which is why he tried something desperate which he desperately hoped would work. There was little to no chance that he would be able to find Paco by wandering the streets of Madrid , so instead he put an advertisement in the local newspaper El Liberal. The advertisement read,

“Paco, meet me at the Hotel Montana at noon on Tuesday. All is forgiven! Love, Papa.”

Paco is such a common name in Spain that when the father went to the Hotel Montana the next day at noon there were 800 young men named Paco waiting for their fathers…and waiting for the forgiveness they never thought was possible!

From the short story The Capital of the World by Ernest Hemingway
in The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway


  • Imagine your name is Paco too. Would you muster enough courage and show up at the Hotel Montana?
  • What strikes you about this story? How have you offered forgiveness to others? How has forgiveness been offered to you?
  • What does this story say about humanity’s desire for forgiveness?
  • How is forgiveness understood in this story? Is it an act of grace—or something else?
  • Do you think Paco’s father had forgotten about Paco’s misdeeds? Does it even matter?

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