**Be gentle with me, my friends. I’m experimenting with a different style…just for the fun of it!**
Once upon a time, there existed the town of Villacor. It was a beautiful town, full of beautiful people. The townspeople of Villacor loved each other and loved their town. They were lovely because they loved.
This town was ruled by a king. He had lived in the town at one time, but now was absent, having returned to his own country for a time. The townspeople didn’t remember him very well, but they loved each other and loved their town, so they tried to care for each other the best they could. All was lovely because they loved.
Over time, the townspeople began to feel a strange kind of burning inside of them. They weren’t sure that they were very important to the king anymore. He hadn’t been to visit them in such a long time, perhaps he didn’t care anymore, maybe he wasn’t ever coming back. Besides, they reasoned that if he did ever return, surely he would take them away to his own country, which must be perfection itself, rather than forcing them to stay in their own place.
As they wondered these things, the townspeople of Villacor began to love not quite so well. It showed up in small things at first: an unkind look, a piece of trash, a little less food left for the animals. Yet as time went on and the king did not return to look after his town, this not-loving grew bigger and bigger. And things began to look less lovely because they were less loved.
The town grew dirtier and more cluttered. Even the people began to look ugly. The people began hating each other and hurting each other, which left scars. The animals were neglected and began to turn on themselves and to destroy the plants for food. All was ugly because they were not loved.
Then one day a small group of Villacorians looked around at each other and at their town and decided to trust what the king had told them. If the king had promised to return, then he would one day return. If the king had said that he loved them and loved their town, then it must be so. And if the king loved their town, then he must mean for them to remain in it. This little group of people looked around at the town that was loved by the king and they began to love it too, for his sake, even though it was still ugly for having been so unloved.
This little group began caring for the town and for each other. They treated their fellow townspeople with kindness and gave grace in return for hate. They picked up trash where they found it and tended the plants and animals. The town and its people began to look a little more lovely because they were once again being loved.
Time continued to pass, and even though the king still had not returned, the little group of townspeople worked hard at loving their town as their group grew and grew until finally, once again, the town was beautiful, full of beautiful people who loved each other and loved their town. They didn’t know when the king would return, but they trusted that he would someday return because he had promised that he would always love them. They were lovely because they loved.
Finally the day came. Trumpets sounded over the trees and lakes as the sun burst over the hilltop. The townspeople of Villacor rushed out of the town into the countryside to greet their king. They surrounded him and brought him back into their town to show him how they had cared for their town. They showed the king the beauty and cleanliness of the town, the well-tended plants and animals, and demonstrated the acts of kindness that they showed to each other.
One small girl asked the king why it had taken so long for him to return. Another little boy asked if the king was going to carry them all back to his own country. The king smiled at them all and said, “My children, I was waiting for you. It was only when you began to care for the town and each other that everything grew into the way that I had intended all along. When you began loving each other and loving your town, you changed into a new people and a new town, as beautiful as you were in the beginning. Now I have come, and rather than take you away from this town you have learned to love, I will now make my home with you.”
And the king’s love became a physical shining that encompassed them all and made everything it touched even more beautiful than it had been before. They were lovely because they were loved.