by Lynn and Dave Hopwood
There was a king with a palace full of family and subjects. One day one of his sons, Jake, came to him and asked for money so he could leave and go exploring. The king was concerned but would not deny the boy his freedom. So he gave the boy a large amount and wished him well. Jake travelled the land, stopping every now and then. Sometimes to work, sometimes to help others, sometimes to take it easy and enjoy life, sometimes to party a little. One day he met a young woman, Tabitha, who was helping the poor in her town. He stayed with her for a while and helped her out. It turned out she knew the king, she’d met him and remarkably owed her life to him. So she was excited to learn that Jake was his son. But the lad was nonchalant about it. He felt he’d cut all ties with the old man now. That life was behind him. Tabitha was surprised, she felt she owed so much to the boy’s father. And this was a story repeated time and again as Jake travelled. There was the young and cocky Joe working for the town hotshot. Joe was going places he said, but not on his own, he was doing it with the king’s help. And there was Ruth, helping her refugee mother-in-law, Naomi. A cantankerous old turnip, Ruth admitted, but she couldn’t stop caring about her. She’d promised that with the king’s help they’d both bounce back from trouble and heartache. Apparently the king had a particularly leaning towards the struggling. A side Jake had not noticed before.
Jake was sitting in a crowded coffee shop one morning, pondering his cappuccino, when a stranger, Luke grabbed the seat opposite him. The young man immediately pulled a large black leather-bound notebook from his bag and started scribbling. ‘You a writer then?’ Jake asked. ‘Hope so,’ said Luke. ‘Got plenty of stories to tell.’ ‘Murder mysteries?’ Jake asked and Luke laughed. He had a warm open face, and the round cheeks coloured a little with his laughter. ‘No, not fiction,’ Luke said. ‘I’m telling people’s stories. I got hundreds. Wanna tell me yours?’ Jake shrugged. ‘Not much to tell,’ he muttered. ‘I’m travelling, meeting people, a kind of voyage of discovery.’ Luke nodded. ‘Yea, me too,’ he said, ‘that’s how I’m getting my stories.’ He lifted the notebook and weighed it in his hands. ‘So many lives,’ he said, ‘ all affected by the king.’ Jake groaned. ‘Not another one,’ he said, ‘I can’t get away from the old man.’ They chatted for a while before Luke said, ‘You’d be surprised how many of us there are. Folks who’ve bumped into the king. Your old man doesn’t stay in his palace you know. Far from it. He’s out and about. Helping so many of us.’ Jake shrugged. ‘I’m helping myself these days,’ he said, ‘doing plenty of living on my own.’ ‘Great,’ said Luke looking him in the eyes, ‘I am too. But I need more. And if the king’s around, why miss out?’ He held up his notebook again. ‘You know what all these people have in common? They have somewhere to go with all their good times and troubles. Someone to talk to about it all. A king who promises strength and rest.’