There was once a glorious Kingdom where the grass was green and there was peace, where none hungered or fought but loved each one the other. There was a perfect Prince who saw selflessly to the needs of his people, never hesitating to ride through a storm or jump into the mud to help the lowliest serf. The common people were not wealthy but they were comfortable and had a good life and were basically grateful for what they had. The Prince had a plan for all his people, even the lowliest serf, to grow in love and wisdom and become like him that one day all would be his little brothers and sisters, fellow princes, and live together in glory and splendor.
The nobles were lovely and refined, they were gracious and kind to the serfs, and both nobles and serfs were eager to do the bidding of the Prince, whose commands were beneficial to all. But then the greatest lord grew greedy and sought to reign where he ought not. He began to use his influence to seduce some of the nobles into joining him in his wicked plan to enslave the people and grow rich off of their labor and when he had gained all the wealth to kill them all. Then he and the newly corrupted nobles began to beguile the people, luring them with tales of riches in the mines. Displaying sachets of jewels, the ‘lord of the mines’, as he began to call himself, led the villagers to the mines. “Just come in and look,” he said, “just come and see the wealth here beneath the earth. A few years of toil and imagine what you will have!” And he told them all how much they could expect to gain by working for him in the mines and that they could become nobles themselves. One by one they entered and became entranced by the sparkling walls of the mines. ”Oh, let’s leave our fields and huts, and work here in the mines that soon we, too, will be like the nobles with many fine jewels.”
And so, after while, most of the common people of the land went to work in the mines. It all seemed grand at first as they worked away with great dreams of the riches they would have. Once they were all in the mines, the lord had the entrances blocked off and guarded by big, mean soldiers with weapons. But the people were used to living in peace so they had no weapons and thus they were trapped. And the people soon found that the work was terribly arduous. Yes, after awhile it began to turn very very sour and they saw that they had been totally deceived but the ’lord of the mines’ and they began to lose all hope.
The people were not miners by trade, but the lord was well-equipped. He had plenty of equipment and trained foremen to who show them how to do the work. And if they tried to refuse there were henchmen to beat them until they were willing to do the work. Yes the people dug the gems and were all we dot keep a very little of what they mined but then they needed to buy food and clothes, candles, picks and shovels and wheelbarrows and so they had nothing for themselves. The dream of riches to become like the nobles had been a great lie designed to enslave them. Soon the dark caves did not sparkle so brilliantly, but were laden with the heaviness of soul.
Once mighty smiths labored pitifully to eke out a meager living for their families who once lived in cozy, fire-warmed, huts and were well fed although admittedly not wealthy. Now they huddled in cold dank caves and ate moldy bread. Cries of anguish echoed through the caverns where those who were once fast friends and loving neighbors now could not bear to make eye contact.
And a perfect Prince sat and wept on a lonely throne. Runners so longer came to ask help for the villagers, no one seemed to want his love or service and what the ’the lord of the mines’ had done was ruining the Prince’s Kingdom and his plan to raise up all his people to be little princes. While the ‘lord of the mines’ sat atop a heap of jewels with grease on his chin, wine in his belly and wicked glee in his heart for the howls of the soul-stolen miners. It appeared that all was lost.
But the lonely yet lovely Prince said to himself, “I will not allow my people to be stolen and enslaved. I have loved them and they are mine. That no-good-rascal ex-nobleman will not be allowed to oppress my dear ones!” So he disguised himself and set off to work in the mines. He slipped in undetected.
While everyone rested, the Prince began to dig a shaft upwards through which they could escape. Although alone, tired and toiling, he was fueled by the determination of regaining his people and restoring them to their rightful life where they could call on him for their needs and he would run to them. And where they could continue to receive from his plan to make them all princes like him and be his little brothers and sisters. So as he worked away, digging in the dim candlelight, he would say over and over to himself, “ They will be free, they will be free!”
He bore the agony of hearing their cries. He helped them and whispered, “Tell your family that I am digging a way out to here. You’ll be able to go home to your village.” They did not recognize him and could never have believed that he would do this for them after they had so despised the good life he had given them and chosen the lie of ‘the lord of the mines.’ But little by little, flickers of memory began to light tiny glowing embers calling from pasts of peace and beauty that had been long forgotten. And slowly but surely, he dug - upward, upward, upward.
Then one day, one old friend said to the other, cautiously, “I heard a silly rumor. Have you heard of it? That someone is digging a way out for us to go home?” Yes, his family too had been faithful to the secret that now was clearly meant for all! Old friends embraced and dared to consider reunion, and in reunion dared to consider remembering, and in remembering dared to believe that maybe there was indeed a way out, and in daring to believe they dared to hope, and hope springs eternal.
And then one day, the Prince came and said, "The shaft is finished, the way out is prepared for you. Follow the light. But I must go create a diversion. I’ll go and stand between you and the ‘lord of the mines’ while you climb into the light, and I will be along after awhile.” So he headed to the lair of ‘lord of the mines’ where he was instantly attacked by the ‘lord’s’ soldiers and henchmen. They began to beat and torture him but he never made a sound. All he could think about was his people finally being free. Some of them peeked in on the scene as they headed for the shaft and saw what was being done to the kind man who they all had come to know for his message of hope to them. Surely he had not lived, they thought, and they told the others.
But they all scrambled up into the glorious daylight, covering their eyes at first. They fell to their knees in indescribable joy, rolling in ecstasy on the grass, their hearts filled with life, their lungs with fresh air, and their minds with dreams of their humble abodes - the very abodes the had so foolishly thought inadequate when they had given up the peace of home for the lie of the ‘lord of the mines.’ They shouted for joy, they cried with relief, they leapt and danced and sang. Home they went, grateful but sorrowful at the loss of the kind stranger who they had never recognized as their beautiful Prince who had given his very life for them. But they began to love one another as they never had before and their gratitude for what they had was so very very much greater than it was before they fell into the trap of the ‘lord of the mines.’
The Prince had been beaten and beaten, mercilessly and long: beaten with fists, beaten with clubs, beaten with boots, beaten with shovels and impaled with picks. When it was all over, the prince was dead, as dead can be, more dead than was any other man from the dawn of time. But the Prince had been full of love, and the love in the heart of the Prince could not be killed. Deep in his no-longer-beating heart was still the loving, selfless message: “My people will be free!” And the cry of freedom in that heart could not be silenced, no matter the shovels and picks. The henchmen stuffed his body into a little alcove in a remote no-longer-used cave in deepest recesses of the mines. For three days it lay there, still and dead, dead as death itself. But on the third day the love that could not be killed brought the prince’s heart to life! One beat and then another, with every beat growing stronger, until the Prince’s lungs drank in air, his eyes opened, he stretched his limbs as if waking from a good, long nap, and he stood on his feet, more alive than ever! Yes, the Prince was alive, and not just alive but stronger and more determined than ever to set his people free! For that is what a heart full of love will do for you. And so the Prince proceeded to have a little meeting with the ‘lord of the mines’ to settle the matter.
“You wicked lord, treasonous and accursed. You have no right to trick and enslave the people. You have been a fool,” declared the Prince. “Was it not enough for you to be my most distinguished noble? But you have traded in what I gave you for destruction and now your fate will be that which you sought for my precious ones!” And with that he single-handedly rounded up the ‘lord of the mines’ and all his traitorous ex-noblemen, soldiers and henchmen and put them in chains and threw them into the bottomless pit that opened up in the lowest cave in the mines.
Then the Prince returned to the surface and climbed the nearest mountain. Atop its crest he spread out his once torn, healing hands and said, ”Be whole again. Return to yourself. Be free. LIVE!!!!” And a wind swept across the land and with it every sign of decay and sickness and death was caught in the wind and borne away from the people and from the land. And the Prince returned to his throne.
Then the Prince sent word out to all the people of the land that he was the one who had dug the shaft to rescue them from the mines and that, although he had been killed, his love for them had brought him back to life and he had returned to his throne. And when all the people heard this they rejoiced and celebrated and danced and sang and wondered at how great was their Prince who loved them so much and gave himself up for them and they began love him more and more and more. Then he sent the trustworthy nobles into the mines to collect all that the ‘lord of the mines’ had collected and had it distributed among those who had labored in the mines and also some was given to those few who had not gone into the mines. And somehow, for those who cared to give a rough accounting, it seemed that everyone received twice as much as he would have if it had gone according to the plan the ‘lord of the mines’ had duped them with in the first place. In fact they had much much more than they ever would have earned in their old lives.
So the Prince went about helping the people use their new wealth to build beautiful castles for themselves and after awhile the whole land was full of lords and there were no serfs at all but all the lords served one another with joy and love as if they were all serfs. And the Prince held a great banquet for all his lords and said, “See, now you have become my brothers. You have learned the lesson of not following the way of the ‘lord of the mines’ who is forever defeated and judged and cast out. See, I have rescued you so that I could share my glory and splendor with you forever, you are princes in my Kingdom forever and you will reign with me and we will expand this Kingdom all over the whole world and out into he whole universe forever and ever with love and peace and joy and glory.”
And the princes loved the Prince as he deserved. And he served them as he always had and they served him and each other as they never knew they could. And so the Kingdom of the Prince grows and grows right up until this day and will continue to do so forever and ever and ever.
-Stephen Pursell, original: 1/21/03, revised: 7/12/14