Once upon a time, a people lived in fear.
In all the world they lived in, they sought for Love drawn near.
They knew that Love was full and true, was certain and was deep;
They knew it was dependable, something you could keep.
They knew it should be given free, not measured out in kind;
This sort of love was liquid gold: love pure and love refined.
They glimpsed it intermittently, in memories and dreams
Of laughter shared in winter-time, or summers with ice creams.
They felt it in their longing for an old and long-lost friend
Who was loved, and loved back in return – whose Love was without end.
But a stirring, nagging, fearful thought disturbed them all day long:
‘Love’s our goal, it’s ours to choose, and yet we’re always going wrong.’
And all but for an open secret, a fear everybody knew:
If you give your love to others, well, what if they don’t love you?
In love you risk your everything, without a guarantee –
So stow your love away, secure – then you can be free,
Yes, take the love that you can get, hold it as your own,
And never trust a stranger, risk a gift to the unknown!
Oh, lock away your hope, my child – for one day you’ll surely find
‘Helping others get ahead only gets you left behind.’
So did the people put away the Love they wished they knew.
They tried love and found it hurtful, it hurt them through and through.
(It’s not that they abandoned love, or wanted to be cruel,
It’s just life showed love was tit-for-tat: quite a trusty rule!)
Though Love remained a precious thing they wanted to restore,
They protected it too closely – hidden, lost, locked in a drawer.
In time it was forgotten – what this love had been about –
The people sighed, moved on sadly, when they couldn’t work it out.
Sometimes they still asked the question, what love looked like, deep and true,
But a Love-without-end was not a love the people knew.
Then one day, along came one who looked like all the rest,
Who could have held love’s secret, and no-one would have guessed.
Who had no power or riches, nor beauty they could see,
Who looked, to all the world, the very last who might love free.
Who proved them right, in their own eyes, by bringing into view
A love they didn’t recognise – the Love they wished they knew.
Who kept the wrong companions, and didn’t seem to mind
That the ones who followed closest were the ones most left-behind.
Who taught “Love is the greatest way – you want a guarantee?
Oh look no further then, today: the Guarantor is me.”
From there, the rumour spread of one whose love was without end,
But others shook their heads (“Such love can only be pretend.”)
And some, who rather liked the sound of love that came for free,
Turned away when things got harder (“This just isn’t quite for me”.)
Still others, in high places, when they heard of this new trend,
Put on their worried faces (“Just how far might this extend?”)
For the one who promised love had also taught another thing –
That love came with a kingdom – and had claimed to be its king!
So the Guarantor, whose rule of love was love’s own highest aim
Fell foul of those for whom this life was quite a different game.
The Guarantor, whose love was lavished dangerously free,
Received its consequences, hung for all the world to see.
The point was proved: Love without end had met its end right here,
Sentenced by the very ones it wanted to draw near.
A world full of betrayal and desertion and deceit –
A love as free as this one was must surely meet defeat.
So the people went to grieve their loss, confirming it was true:
Love always loses in the end – just as they always knew.
The Guarantor’s great promise would now fade back out of view:
They’d been there and they’d tried it, and they’d seen it wouldn’t do.
Except in one small corner, where the Guarantor found friends,
Who’d heard that Love-without-end meant loving to the end.
They didn’t understand it, as they buried one they loved,
And grieved without the slightest hint of comfort from above.
Then one by one, they saw what they could barely comprehend –
Their friend, again arisen, who to death had been condemned.
“Will you love me?” came the question – even though you’ve seen the cost?
“Will you love my world as I have done?” – and know you won’t be lost?
“I’m with you now and always” – just as you will be with me –
“My love will last forever” – and the truth will set you free.
Once upon a time, a people lived in fear.
But they needed fear no longer, after Love came near.
( – with thanks to Yang and Naomi and Katherine for helping put this together)