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The man who never was

Nothing you know of us is true

History would have us Magi, Astrologers, Philosophers
Learned counsellors of the realm
Wise men of the East
We read the message hidden deep inside the old scripture, and recognised the sign of the star when it came
We followed the light that signalled the arrival of the Christ Child, which lead us far from home, travelling the silk routes of the Middle East toward Jerusalem
Towards the prophecy fulfilled
Towards the birth of a legend
This much is true

But we were not Gaspar, Melchyor or Balthasar
Nor were we Hor, Karsudan or Basanter

We bore no gifts
And we had no belief – only hope

If we had been truly wise we would never have chosen you
We would have let you grow in peace and anonymity, free of the burden of expectation
Without our Blessing, you may have lived as a man, rather than died as a god
But we were blind, and not so wise

We followed the signs, adding our voices to those clamouring for a leader, and we set the seal on your fate
You believed you were up with the gods, and, for our sins, we helped to put you there

We set you on the path

From the mewling child we found beneath the stars, through thirty years of posturing and performing, to the stark moment at hand – long after sunset, long after your soul has slipped free of its mortal bonds, long after your mother and your brother and your lover have abandoned you – we return to see you brought safely down to earth
You are a child grown old
And we, we three kings
We are so very sorry that we could not save you

Already your Disciples run to their followers to mythologise you. You are flesh and blood transformed, a living scripture, continually reinvented and sold to the whole world
A man that never was, who will assuage our fears and sanctify our hopes…

Your flesh is cold to the touch as we lift you down from the cross; the wounds in your wrists are deep, the pain of your death is etched into the lines of your face, and the thorns of the fool’s crown have sunk deep into the tangles of your hair
We will stay with you and pray for you, even as this night becomes history
And history becomes story
And the story travels away from this moment
Away from this land
Away from this time
On and on into the future
Gathering momentum
Becoming larger than life
Larger than death…
Until we all believe we know you

Whether worshipped or reviled, you will belong to us all
And centuries from now all the peoples of the world will own you, and disown you, will believe in you, and leave you, will find joy in you, then destroy you
Your image as a potent source of peace, love and hatred will hang suspended on walls too numerous to count, forever crucified, forever deified, forever misunderstood

You will bring unity, comfort and salvation
You will bring division, death and suffering

For the Holy Peace and Holy War yet to come, we are truly sorry

We wipe away the blood from your wounds, and in the darkness the hordes that will die in your name wait to be born.
The man who falls, heavy and dead, from the wooden cross comes to rest on the stony ground of Calvary. We roll him over and wash his limbs. We place a jewel upon each eye and a pinch of spice in his open mouth. We bind his thin body in clean white cloth and wrap him tightly until his shroud is complete.
Soon he will rest in the tomb close by that lies open ready to receive the bodies of the condemned
The bodies of the purified dead
The bodies of the men who never were

He will take his place amongst the prophets, martyrs and holy men, and add his silent voice to theirs
Another corrupting layer that will roll like an obscuring fog over all that is true, sending us further from the light and even deeper into the blindness of being human
Soon we must take our leave of you, as you have taken your leave of us, and return to the East
Under the sun and under the moon, we travel over the living land, and off the page of history…

And you will not return

There will be no resurrection

But for a million lost souls in all of the far reaches of the wide world, from this quiet night in the desert, on into the unimaginable future, your name will bring solace
The needy, the sick and the desperate will glorify this perfect moment and will reach out to a man who never was

And find peace

A part of the Fable and Folklore collection