As you know, I grew up in a big old house deep in forest, reading fairy tales and myths and antique children's books, listening to the tales of the wild ocean wind. So it's not really surprising I guess that my favourite story is what I believe to be one of the oldest and most important stories we tell each other. As a child, I encountered it in Sleeping Beauty especially, but also in many other old stories, including (with gender reversals) Beauty and the Beast.
It is the story of a lost princess and the prince who searches desperately to find her. I'm sure Christians understand this story well, and any pagan versed in the old feral tales will likely understand it too. No matter if we lose our consciousness, become lost, become surrounded by brambles, we will be looked for - we will be found - by a prince of peace, a prince of storms, who will always believe in our beauty, our worth. (Of course, the language changes according to your spirituality or science.)
Over the past couple of nights I have been reading a particular contemporary fiction book which I won't name because I know a friend is reading it and I don't want to spoil it for them. The book is enormous, and I must confess I've just been dipping into it - mostly reading the parts that make my heart lift and my breath stop so that all in me is perfectly silent while the lovely song of the story rings inside my soul. It is absolutely the most romantic book I own, even though the romance is limited to a sentence here and there, and the main characters never even kiss. I find the romance in the heroine's unwavering certainty that her hero will keep on searching for her, and in the hero's longing, despair, and relentless determination even when he is told she's dead.
In real life, love gives up all the time. People lose faith in each other, betray each other in big and small ways. I could happily spend my whole life dreaming the romance of unfailing love - the sword that cuts through brambles - the longing that finds a way - even the wicked old woman who turns out to be a force for good after all, behind her supposedly cruel spells.
Of course, the most interesting stories tell about the lost faith and betrayals. But I think the best ones believe in love.