Reader Writes - December 2018

Once upon a time there was a king, The King I should say. He was of course just as you would expect: to be obeyed absolutely, at times terrifying, always regal. But this was not a great burden to his subjects because he was also known for wisdom, even compassion, and certainly humour. In short, he was a king who loved his people. He was surrounded –whether by design or the consequence of too much life- by a great druidic court of poets and priests, of sages and diviners, who were supposed to represent the King to his people. However, avoiding the long story, the King was mightily disappointed with his people, and especially with his court who too often took to squabbling, intrigues, idleness and even hypocrisy. He discussed his grief with trusted prophets and sages, and gradually began to reveal a plan.

He had a much loved only son who was still a very young man but wise beyond his years. The plan was shocking to those who knew it. The boy would go in disguise among the ordinary people and live like one of them; casting off his royal cloak and princely raiment, he dressed as, and indeed in a real sense became, a refugee. Huh, there were plenty of them about! Wars, famines, persecutions were all a consequence of the abundant fecklessness of people, mostly, it was claimed, in other lands. Some even pointed out that it had a lot to do with climate change, but that’s another subject and one the court refused to talk about. So the prince became and lived as a refugee suffering all the indignities of an immigrant unwanted by most, abused by some, and exploited by others for manual work at low wages.

Many in the court didn’t believe the King would really send his son out to suffer with ordinary poor people; others scoffed that it couldn’t possibly achieve anything. But the King was determined that by his child he would “visit” his people. He longed to meet them and know them. He longed to reach out to them through the boy in a way that he had never been able to do before. By becoming one of them he would uniquely share their lot and sympathise with their burden.

And so it was, the royal prince laid aside his privileges and rights, and he became worse than a common man; he became an outcast –exploited and abused too often, but protected and loved by others. He became a healer. He became a teacher. He gathered a group of friends, a sort of new family around himself. Evil fled from his path. Wizards cowered, and spells shattered. Imprisoned bodies were released and chained minds gloriously set free. Abused women crowned with dignity. Rough sleepers embraced. Dear God, he turned the world upside down! A light in the darkness which the darkness could not overcome. Unquenchable hope!

The King was delighted with this project to bring his people to their senses; they flocked to receive life. But there was a shadow; his son would be abused, taken into custody and tortured. It would break the King’s heart. He knew it and he grieved. “The government will be on his shoulders, and he will be called Wonderful Counsellor …. Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end.” Amen, Amen, Amen.

Robert MacCurrach

Rob MacCurrach Comment