LOVE in a time of
tentative post-pandemia

Many of us are familiar with Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale The Emperor’s Nightingale.

Entranced by the song of a nightingale outside his window, the Emperor calls for his most-skilled craftsmen to forge him one of metal and gears, a nightingale of such fine artifice that could imitate the bird’s sweet songs. The emperor fell ill, and the only thing that could cure him was the song of the real nightingale that lived in his own perfumed gardens.

But it seems there was more to this tale and another of H. C. Andersen’s secrets was cunningly laid in between his lines of prose.

This beloved Danish weaver of tales also experienced falling in love. Alas, it seems Love was not kind to him, as he had a habit of deeply falling in love with the unattainable, the unreachable. One such object of the author’s affections was a vision and a songbird named Jenny Lind.

Lind was an opera singer by trade, and Andersen, smitten with love for her, confessed his feelings. However, his feelings were not reciprocated, as she preferred to have him as a friend, and that her heart belonged to another man – the composer Fryderyk Chopin. Chopin, suffering from tuberculosis at the time, wrote to Lind that her songs often made him “feel better.” She would then set up a grand concert in order to gather funding for a tuberculosis hospital, but later had to flee from the cholera epidemic. When she returned later she found her beloved dead from the consumption. Jenny Lind never recovered and devoted her entire life to Chopin’s legacy.

Meanwhile, H. C. Andersen continued to receive letters from Jenny, despairing over her “first, deepest, and purest love.” We can only imagine what that must have felt like for Andersen…

In a similar vein, this year has many bitter moments. But like the songbird of the story it has been a year when we have been able to step from behind our machines and tentatively reconnect and hesitantly embrace our fellow beings. This is the experience that has given us the most confidence this year.


Big love from all of us at

CommUnity what?

These anecdotes come from members of the CommUnity International network.

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