KEEPERS by MARY ANN DOWD
Once upon a time not very long ago. In fact, at the start of this story; there lived a loving and very wise KING. This King created a Utopian city which he called the greatest city in all the land. The King put a group of rulers in charge of this city to rule it wisely and lovingly just as he had imagined. The King told these rulers his magnificent dream for his kingdom. The King called these rulers Keepers and He entrusted them with the power to make his dream a reality in the greatest city in all the land. He wanted a place where all people could live in peace and safety. He wanted his kingdom to be a place where his people could live and work and play and be happy.. The King knew his perfect plan would ensure that above all else, his people would be happy, content and at peace with each other..
The people who lived in the city had all anyone could wish for to live a happy life. . Happiness was the most precious gift the King wanted his people to have and so he made the city beautiful with parks and streams and plenty of places for children and adults to play and have picnics and go fishing and boating. The trees were of every color and size and some bloomed all year long.
In the winter the city was covered in a blanket of snow and the children and grown ups could skate on the ponds and ride their sleds down the hills and make snowballs and snowmen and women. Many people worked with their hands. They built the buildings where people worked and lived. They built parks and playgrounds and museums and theaters. Some people used their minds to imagine the best way to make their city prosperous and healthy and even more beautiful for all the people. Some stayed home to raise the children to be responsible, loving and caring adults who would honor the King and his vision and carry on the good work he had started. The citizens of the greatest city in all the land were grateful and they hoped they could always live this way thanks to their good King.
The King smiled when he saw how well his dream was coming together. He left the city for sometime but promised to return and charged the Keepers to continue all the good work he had started.
After a few years some of the Keepers began to grow weary with simply obeying the instructions the King had given them.They began to think that they had a better plan, or, at least more ideas to make the city more of what they might envision. After all, they reasoned, don’t we have ideas just as good as the Kings’? We can make people happy too, can’t we? What if we give them everything they ask for? So slowly the wise vision of the King began to give way to the Keepers vision for the city. The Keepers began to turn on each other because each one wanted the love and respect of the people to show that they were the greatest in the greatest city in all the land.
So one by one they began to promise the people anything and everything they said would make them happy. With each new promise came more power and respect for the Keeper until it became clear that no request was too outlandish or preposterous. Some of the people’s requests forgot about being kind or loving or even moral. Soon all the dreams of the King were forgotten. The people, instead of becoming happier, became increasingly unhappy. The beauty of the city faded into disrepair as each one argued over the best way to keep it beautiful. The joy and happiness that the people felt when they were all working and playing together became a bitter struggle to have things their own way. The people began to realize they could go to the Keepers to get what they wanted and the Keepers knew by promising them what they wanted they could have the honor and power that was always only meant for the King.
Very soon the most beautiful city in all the land became the ugliest. The town was covered in vines and dirt and garbage because everyone was arguing about who should clean it up so no one ever did. Even the air in the once great city became fouled and hard to breath. The joy and happiness the people enjoyed when they were living in the plan of the King was nowhere to be seen. All the important and urgent matters of running the city were in the hands of those who were entrusted to Keep the peace. Now, there was no peace, no joy, and sadly, no happiness.
One day the keepers received word that the King was coming back soon and was looking forward to seeing his beautiful city and all the happy people again. The Keepers realized what they had done. We have completely abandoned the job the King left us here to do. We have gone our own way and our pride, selfishness and greed has led us to lead all the people astray.. What are we to do?
The Keepers summoned all the people to the town square, now overgrown with weeds, the gazebo in the center of the park crumbling from disrepair. They beseeched the people saying: “We have failed the King and we have failed all of you citizens of this great city. Please help us to restore our town to the way it was before.” Many of the people remembered when everyone worked and played together thinking of others and lending a helping hand, when the city was beautiful and clean and the people were happy. Now it would take a lot of hard work with everyone pulling together to make it look and feel the way it did before. The people agreed to help the Keepers but only if they could appoint new keepers from among themselves who had proven themselves to be kind and loving like the King. The people found citizens who remembered the King and his dreams and had tried to live that way. These people, faithful to the King were appointed as new Keepers and put in charge of the greatest city in all the land. The Keepers reluctantly agreed and all of the Keepers and people began the work hoping that they would have enough time before the King returned.
This is where our story ends. The citizens of the town came to their senses at last but was it too late? They remembered joy and hope and happiness. They were never sure of exactly when the King would return but they were determined to do their best until He did.