A Fairy Tale for Grownups

Once upon a time, when stars and sunsets were still in fashion and the world had not yet lost its glow of fresh wonder, there lived a princess. A wondrous, one-of-a-kind princess she was: Princess of All Things You Can Neither See Nor Touch.

One morning as she gazed out her window, feeling only hope, joy, faith and love, an Idea came knocking. It was a strange Idea, one she’d never encountered before. But, as it was, after all, a stranger, she welcomed it into her world, just as you or I would welcome a stranger that came knocking.

A tree with a door in it
Photo by Carlos Amarillo/Shutterstock.com

The Idea, though muddy from wind and rain, and not well-formed as yet, went something like this: “If I can feel hope, then why not despair? If I can feel joy, then why not sorrow? If I can feel faith, then why not doubt? And if I can feel love, then why not hate?”

The Princess, seeing the Idea’s rough and ill appearance, asked it inside and gave it shelter and a warm fire and a bit of soup, just as you or I might give shelter and soup to a stranger on our doorstep who appeared chilly and unwell.

In the fullness of time, the Idea gained strength and vigor and decided it was time to depart the Princess’ domain to seek its fortune. Bidding farewell, the Idea asked the Princess what it could do to repay her kind attentions. The Princess answered, “You need not remember me. Just remember there is kindness at the heart of all hope, joy, faith and love.”

The Idea knelt and kissed the Princess’ proffered ring. “I will remember,” it said, and went off into the world.

And the world became cold and dark as those who still believed in things that cannot be seen or touched grew few and huddled together for warmth and light.

Many sunsets, storms and tides passed, and the Idea flourished and gained dominion in the world. People saw that hope could become despair, joy could become sorrow, faith could turn into doubt and even love may sour into hate.

They not only saw these things, but some profited by them, sewing greed and falsehood into the Idea and thus multiplying by a thousand thousands the grief and dismay of the world.

And the Idea did not remember that kindness is at the heart of all hope, joy, faith and love, and so broke its promise to the Princess, doubting, at the end, that there even had been a Princess at all, or that there were things that you can neither see nor touch and only believe in.

And the world became cold and dark as those who still believed in things that cannot be seen or touched grew few and huddled together for warmth and light.

Campfire

And the Princess of All Things You Can Neither See Nor Touch gazed out her window, feeling a heaviness in her heart, just as you or I might feel when our dreams have taken a wrong turn or two.

And then, one morning, an Idea came knocking.

It was a strange Idea, one she’d never encountered before, but, as it was, after all, a stranger, she welcomed it into her world, just as you or I would welcome a stranger that came knocking.

The Idea, though muddy from wind and rain, and not well-formed as yet, went something like this:

“Understanding.”

Just that.

“Understanding.”

The Princess, seeing the Idea’s rough and ill appearance, asked it inside and gave it shelter and a warm blanket and a bit of porridge, just as you or I might give shelter and a bit of porridge to a stranger on our doorstep who appeared chilly and unwell.

In the fullness of time, the Idea gained strength and vigor and decided it was time to depart the Princess’ domain to seek its fortune. Bidding farewell, the Idea asked the Princess what it could do to repay her kind attentions.

The Princess had grown wiser with experience and so the answer she gave to this Idea was different. “You, Understanding, shall henceforth be my Emissary to the World. Whenever and wherever there is despair, sorrow, doubt and hate, you will appear as the Path toward hope, joy, faith and love, even if only those who see you will take it.”

Understanding knelt and kissed the Princess’ proffered ring. “I will obey,” it said, and went off into the world.

Understanding kept its promise to the Princess.

And so, from that day until this one, it is so. If you or I see or feel despair, sorrow, doubt or hate within ourselves or others, simply taking the path to understanding will lessen despair and let hope return. Simply taking the path to understanding will ease sorrow and open the door, one day, to joy. Simply taking the path to understanding will allay doubt and allow faith to spring anew. And only by taking the path to understanding can we eliminate hate, replacing it with kindness and love, so that we all may truly live happily ever after.

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