There is a world very much like our own that exists just out of our reach, but very close to our hearts. It is a world filled with great pain, but also great joy. It is a world that has suffered many wars, but has also had its share of peace. It is a world that is full of laughter and mourning, hatred and love, beauty and things that are very far from beautiful. And in that world, there exists a city—a city renowned throughout that entire world for its beauty and strength.
Now this city was given a name by her creator that is too perfect and beautiful for any human lips to utter. Any attempt to call her by name would only bring her shame, so for the purpose of telling this story, we will call her, “Hope.”
Hope, in her own unique way, was the greatest city ever to exist. However, what made this city great was neither her power nor glory. Nor was she great because of her riches or even her fame. No, she was great because although nearly every other city in this world opened their gates to evils of all sorts, Hope never gave into the darkness whose only purpose was to corrupt. She remained pure through every attempt made against her to steal her purity. She did not let hatred overtake her even though others waged war against her. She was a light to many weary souls who were losing their hope. She was a comfort to many who had nearly lost themselves in battle. She was a servant to all others even when she was ridiculed for it.
Now there was man who spent many years wandering through the world. He was a warrior. He was neither well known nor outstanding in any way. In fact, he could be considered rather unimpressive in every way. He had experienced his share of battles, but unfortunately, he was the victor in much less than half of those battles. Oh, but he had stories to tell! He had fought alongside some very spectacular men and women in his days. He had witnessed some major victories against his enemies. He had been on the verge of death, but was personally brought to health by the greatest man to ever live.
But why would anyone just wander through a world instead of settling down in a city and making a name for himself? Well, this man wanted to settle down—very badly, in fact—but to his disappointment, he had not yet found a city that had not been defiled by darkness of some kind. See, this man had a rare distaste for darkness. He could never bear to live in a city that openly allowed some form of evil to dwell in it. He determined that he would find a truly pure city or he would die searching. Perhaps that was very selfish of him. Perhaps he was being far too particular. But either way, he had made his decision and he would allow nothing to change his mind.
Now perhaps you wonder why this man traveled alone. Well, he had had many companions throughout his life. He had many dear friends. But as time passed, he was forced to part ways with his friends. Some of his friends chose to settle down in a city and do their best to rid it of the darkness that dwelled there. Others were killed in battle. And still others had chosen to give up on their quest against darkness, and so they simply walked away and left the man to wander alone. And this is where our story begins.
It should be pointed out that this man did not have a name, for he was unknown to the world and did not dwell in a city, but for the purpose of this story we can call him, “Wishful.”
It had been nearly three years since Wishful had begun his journey. He was traveling through the most painful desert he had ever journeyed through. He had given away nearly all of his possessions to those who needed them more than he. All that he had left was a dull, unimpressive sword and rags for clothing. He had grown very weak and very tired. He had lost so much of his hope that he was sure he would die in that desert. He was now just waiting for that to happen.
One day, when Wishful felt that he could go no further, he spotted a brilliant white city on the horizon. His heart jumped with joy at the sight. Not only had he found a city, but he had found a white city, which meant that although there was surely darkness hidden somewhere in that city, it was a city that thrived on what is good, which meant that he could find rest there. Ah, but what he did not know was that this city was Hope, and that there was in fact no darkness hidden in her. This was a city that would please Wishful far beyond what he had ever hoped for.
Wishful was still half a day’s journey from the gates of Hope when his strength failed him. He fell to the sand and wished for the first time in too long that he would stay alive for a little longer. As he repeated that wish over and over again in his mind, his consciousness forsook him.
When Wishful regained consciousness—which he did not think he would do—the first thing he noticed was that he felt at peace. He had forgotten what peace felt like. At first, that worried him. Why would he feel at peace if he was still in the desert? Perhaps he was dead! He quickly opened his eyes to make sure he was still living.
Beauty—complete utter beauty. That is all Wishful could comprehend when his eyes first opened. He noticed that he was lying in a bed in what seemed to be a guest room. He sat up and looked around, breathless at what he saw. Any attempt to describe the beauty he beheld would only put it to shame so I will make no attempt to do so. However, I can describe Wishful’s reaction to what he saw, and that was laughter—screeches of laughter that seemed to seep into the walls of the room and enhance its beauty even further. Wishful then began clapping his hands and singing out of an uncontainable excitement. But clapping and singing and laughing were not enough. His heart could not contain his joy. He then leaped out of his bed and began dancing around the room, jumping and even rolling. He did this until he was out of breath at which point he collapsed back onto bed and began laughing once again. When Wishful finally calmed down, he decided to explore the rest of Hope, and so he hurried out of his room and did just that.
An entire season passed. Hope had allowed Wishful to live with her as he regained his strength and prepared to journey through the world again, but Wishful no longer had a desire to journey through the world anymore. He had found a city that fit his preferences. More, he had found a city that greatly surpassed even what his most wishful dreams ever hoped to find. He wanted to make Hope his home. However, he did not want it to be known that this was his intention.
Hope was a pure city. There had been many attempts made to steal Hope’s purity, but she was a city of great wisdom. She remained pure by not allowing any darkness to dwell in her. The only way to ensure that darkness would not dwell in her was to be very cautious with strangers and to not allow anyone with ill-intent to infiltrate her walls. But darkness is a tricky thing. It uses even things that seem innocent to gain a foothold into those it wages war against. Hope knew this very well, but how can it be known whether someone is truly trustworthy or not? If there is a way to know, Hope did not know of it, so she simply did not allow anyone to dwell in her—not until she knew for certain she could trust that person, at least. She was a city that provided rest for weary travelers and protection for those in danger, but she was not a permanent home to anyone.
Wishful was not fully aware of this, but he had some suspicions of the fact after a couple months as Hope’s guest. He determined that he would gain Hope’s trust until he felt safe to ask for permission to make Hope his home.
However, it was not long before Hope perceived Wishful’s intent. This triggered a strange defensiveness in her. She had spent so much time trying to keep darkness from coming into her. Perhaps this Wishful was a spy. He seemed innocent, but how could anyone really know for certain? So, Hope decided to put Wishful to the test. She opened doors to him that led to buildings he had previously been unaware of. Oh, how much more joy Wishful was filled by that! There was even more beauty in Hope than he had thought!
But to his demise, Wishful let his excitement get the best of him. He acted out of turn in his state of ecstasy and revealed to Hope that it may not be safe to allow Wishful to be her guest any longer. And so it was that Wishful was cast out of that great city, back into the desert from which he came. What was he to do with himself now? It took a lifetime to find Hope. What city could ever compare to her? Where could he ever be content after experiencing the joy of Hope?
For weeks—months even—Wishful searched the walls of Hope to find a way back into her. He climbed dangerously high just to get another glimpse of her beauty, but a glimpse is all he ever got before the guards of Hope found him and cast him out again. After being abused too many times for his heart to bear, Wishful turned to the desert and walked. He walked aimlessly, trying every day to avoid encountering any city ever again.
After a couple months of walking, Wishful fell to the ground from exhaustion and waited to take his last breath. But there was a man in the distance who saw him fall…
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