Wild-eyed and dishevelled, he roamed the streets and alleys peering in the doorways, tearing at his hair, distraught and distracted.
“I’m looking for Love. I’ve lost it. Has it left? Is it hiding? Has it gone forever? ”
Hedon looked over his tankard and gave a snigger. “Still looking, old man? No luck yet? Try the whore house. There’s plenty will love you there, for a fee.”
“Oh, help me, help me please. I’m looking for Love. I’ve lost my love. Has the whole world grown cold?” His hands shook, causing his matted locks to tremble around his face as he staggered on.
“Come in here, wild man, and learn from me.” A fat man in a business suit sat at a table. A girl sat on his lap; men hovered, fawning around him. Money bags littered the table. “Make your fortune and the world will love you. Look at you, penniless old beggar. Who will love you like that?”
A haunting wail left the old man’s lips. “Oh-oh-oh-oh, the pain. Who will help me? Who can lead me to Love?”
A pretty young lady, barefoot, in a flowing gown and with flowers in her hair, sauntered up to him. She put a flower in his bedraggled mane and kissed him playfully on the nose. “You don’t need to look for love. You are love. Love is the god in you. He lives in each of us. Just let it out and you’ll find Love.
The old man threw himself on the floor, beating the ground. “Will no-one tell me where to find Love? Love has deserted us. The world is cold.”
“Come with me, old hermit.” A tall man with a kind face and a long pony tail pulled him to his feet. “I’ll show you where to find it.” He took him to the country and showed him flowing mountain streams, a pure white lily, snow covered peaks, a soaring eagle. “Look,” he said, “at the beauty that surrounds you. In that beauty you’ll find Love.”
“I see it,” the old man cried, his voice sobbing in despair, “but it’s remote; it’s distant. I don’t feel it. I can’t find it. I’ve lost it in the coldness of men’s hearts.” He hid his face in his hands and his body shook.
For a long time he sat there, shaking. Then a small voice said, “Why are you crying mister?” A little girl stood beside him. As she laid her hand on his shoulder, a glimmer of light touched his soul.
“I’ve lost Love. It’s left this dark world and no-one can find it.”
“I’ll take you to it.” The pure innocence of her voice made him rise. “Come,” she said, “we must climb a hill to find Love.”
“What is your name?”
She smiled sweetly. “My name is Grace. I’m the one who takes people to Love.” She was thoughtful beyond her years as they trudged upward. “I must warn you, love is costly.”
“I have no money.”
It won’t cost you, but it comes at great price.”
“Then who will pay?”
At that moment they crested the hill and he stopped in his tracks. At his feet was a man so disfigured he scarcely looked human. Blood oozed and congealed on lacerated flesh; rivulets of scarlet trickled from his brow down a swollen, bruised face.
The girl pointed, her voice trembling. “He will.”
The battered man lay on a cross. A bleeding hand was outstretched, a nail poised at its wrist.
“No!’ the old man cried, “Stop. Who did this?”
Grace looked at him steadily. “You did…… He’s paying the price for your love.”
“No. No. Don’t do it. I’m not worth this.” His eyes were wide, his mouth contorted.
“He thinks you are.” The hammer struck the nail. Sinews and nerves split as the man convulsed in pain.
Bewildered, the old man cried out, “This is love? This ugliness? This horror?”
Then realisation struck. He’s doing it for me. His face shone with light and a warm peace flooded his soul. “Yes,” he said, “this is true love. Love for me. True beauty in the midst of all this gore.”
Tenderly, he laid his shaggy head on the torn, bleeding breast, weeping with the love that filled his heart.
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us..” 1 John 3:16