Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Fairy Tale

I actually wrote this some time ago and just came across it, I thought I'd post for your (collective) reading pleasure. A (very) short story I wrote for a contest between myself and a friend. Enjoy!

A Fairy Tale
Miles Veritatis

Once upon a time in a shire of England there was a young boy born to a peasant family. He had thin blonde hair and bright blue eyes, a joy to behold, but not a joy to his parents. They had little money, and a new mouth to feed was more than they could handle. Their meals were sparse and housing was sparser, so when the Plague ravaged Europe, they had nowhere to hide. The disease claimed his mother first, then his father; however, when all seemed lost, he was found lying in a basket in the market by the servant of a Duke, who was filled with compassion and pity at his crying and carried him back to his master's manor. The Duke became angry at first at the audacity of this servant to bring the child of a peasant into his home, but the Duchess, upon sight of the boy, was struck by his beauty, and entreated the Duke to allow him to stay. The Duke begrudgingly agreed on the stipulation that he be raised as a stableboy. So the boy stayed with them, raised by the Duchess and her nursemaids until he was old enough to begin to work. As he grew, he was kept in the same nursery as the family's daughter, and became her playmate. The young Lady was beautiful from childhood, with thick hair that flowed in locks black as raven's feathers and glinting hazel eyes—radiant like the emeralds of her mother's jewelry. 
The two became quite fond of each other, and when the boy began his work in the stables at the age of ten, the girl would often go to “play with the horses” and spend time with her friend. She would visit him daily, and as the years passed and the two grew older and more mature, each began to discover the beauty of the other; however, upon the girl's eighteenth birthday, her father announced his plan to marry her to the son of a fellow Duke, a matter in which she had no choice. Her displeasure was obvious, and it was not difficult to discover why. The Duke was enraged at the stable boy, but he was well loved, so there was little that he could do openly. Secretly he began to devise ways to be rid of him, first by offering him ale tainted with hemlock; but the boy was not given to drink and so the temptation passed and the poison failed. Second, the Duke devised a treachery of sport, challenging him to fence but using a blade sharpened in secret; however, the boy proved to have skill with a sword and none of the Duke's blows fell true. Infuriated, the Duke made a third, more desperate scheme. He hired two assassins to kill the boy in his sleep; but the boy was wise, suspecting the Duke's foul play, and so the evening before the attack was to come, he crept from the manor in darkness, taking with him the young Lady, the love of his heart, and fled.
The two did not cease their flight until they were far from danger, fleeing to the East, to the strange countries of the Orient, where they would never be found by the Duke's men. Upon their arrival, they discovered the men of the land to be celebrating a recent victory against their Enemy from the Sea. There was to be a great feast upon the eve of their arrival, with promise of fireworks, and so the two requested to be married amidst the festivities. The night came and the feasting began. As the men became drunk and full of food, there came a shriek from the watchtower and a panic swept across the gathering. Men clamored for their weapons and women and children fled for their homes. Arrows from the dark seemed to suddenly sprout from the ground, the tables, and the bodies of men, sluggish with their drunken bewilderment.
As the chaos began, the young groom leapt to his feet, unsheathing his sword to defend his bride. He stood, eyes frantically searching the darkness, when he felt a small tap at the back of his heel. He whirled about, sword aloft to strike, and then sank to his knees as his heart shattered within him. Tears flooding his eyes, he grasped vainly at the shaft of the arrow sprung from the heart of his love, as though to wrest from it the life it had claimed. There were no fireworks that night.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Agony of Love

I once said that the measure of a man is found not in his strength, his wealth, or even his wisdom. Rather the measure of a man is found in the depth of his love, for it is in love that one discovers the enduring strength to overcome all obstacles, the joy that makes the smallest nothing seem greater than all the world's riches, and the most intimate truths that lend meaning and purpose to life itself.

While I do not disagree with my previous sentiments, I suppose an addendum must be made: for also in love can the deepest pains and most heart-wrenching sorrows be found. The nature of love is to be made vulnerable, the person that is loved is essentially handed the keys to one's heart, and may freely access any part of it. While the dynamic of a loving relationship with God is one sided in the respect that only one of the two partners in such a relationship is capable of failing the other, not so in a relationship between humans. I was once told that I must always remember that we are all human, and by our very nature we are capable of utterly failing each other at any given moment. No one is perfect, and sometimes our imperfection seemingly brings the world crashing down around us and those we treasure most.

The key, and consequently the truest test of love, is found in redemption. Through actions of repentance, selflessness, and care we are able to rebuild from our mistakes. Like a broken bone, once healed, we are stronger than we ever were before. The process takes time, effort, and more often than not considerable amounts of heartache, and we will always be tempted to simply flee our problems, hoping they will vanish. If only it were that simple.

Redeemed love is the most powerful force in the universe, it is the nature of our relationship with God, and it is the most concrete bond possible between two souls. The dynamic of redemption is matchless as, through rebuilding, flaws can be hammered out, oversights can be accounted for, and trust can be forged more purely than ever before. The easy road never leads to the best results. While a gentle stroll down a mountain path can lead to a pleasant meadow, it is only through the toil of climbing the mountain to its summit that one can bask in the glory that is the world laid out below him, and see farther than he imagined. While it is possible to find contentment in taking the easy road, the road filled with hardship is the one that leads a man to something astounding.

It is easy to trust someone who has never wronged you, it is difficult to build trust with someone who has wounded you deeply. It is simple to find happiness in a situation that has never afforded heartache, it is wearying to find solace amongst tumult.

However, the question that must be asked is -- without adversity, is it possible to understand peace? Without pain, is it possible to understand joy? Without betrayal, is it possible to understand love?

God answered that question for us. He, being the omniscient Creator of the universe and of every single one of us; He, the One who defines selfless Love based upon His own person; He, who has never wronged any creature in existence, allowed His most prized creation to stray, so that we could know how wonderful it is to be found. God could have taken the easy road, He could have not allowed Adam and Eve to fall to sin, He could have wiped them from the earth and started over, but He didn't. Instead, out of the selfless love He bore for His children, He not only pursued them into darkness, but ultimately accepted the full penalty of their mistakes upon Himself. The Author of history, the Inventor of life itself, the perfect God of the universe, out of the love He bears for His children, chose to Himself endure agony so that we might fully know the depth of His love.

So, while love is the source of our fulfillment and purpose, it is also through love that we experience our most devastating heartaches. The important thing is to remain steadfast, to sacrifice of the self for love's sake . . . for it is through selfless sacrifice that we find redemption, and it is through redemption that we encounter the deepest, most gratifying love of all.