Saturday, May 15, 2010

Cinders and ashes

Egyptian Cinderella's golden slippers

What if all the things we longed for as children are true?

What if the truth is far better than we've ever hoped to dream?
The force holding the cosmos in balance, the Spirit that makes the morning stars sing-- GOD

is love.

There are certain stories that have woven their way into many cultures-- redemption songs.
One is the Cinderella story. I found many versions of this fairy tale when I wrote a paper on it freshman year for Lit. class, and each version had its own crazy details.

There's a Chinese, Egyptian, Mexican, American, Italian, German, Korean, Filipino, Irish, and Persian Cinderella. And those were just the ones I had time to read.

Every story began with an abused girl with something that set her apart (beauty, kindness, unnaturally small feet, or a star mark on her cheek), and ended with her marrying a prince.

Whether she and prince charming met at a ball or in church (Irish and American versions...hmmm beginning of single's groups? man oh man), Cinderella's abuser tried to thwart fate, such as giving the poor girl (or boy, in one version) impossible tasks to finish by ball time.

But Cinderella is magically helped by either animals, a personal fairy godmother, or her deceased mother. Nothing can stop them from being together, not even ugly stepsisters cutting off toes to fit into her pretty little slippers (the Brothers Grimm. lovely).

It's fascinating to see how that story has endured through generations and cultures. The most ancient version is apparently Chinese, being over a thousand years old. I wonder how it started.
Perhaps gospel message has echoed throughout history as rumors of grace, of the poor and abused making it, whispers of magical (insert 'divine') help in the most impossible circumstances.

I think where the story falls short is the explanation of how Cinderella is worthy of the prince's affections. In the stories she is very kindhearted or very beautiful or unique in some other way.

Maybe this plot line is a concession to what humans cannot accept: nothing makes us worthy.

We are dark yet lovely just because Jesus says so, but nothing we do or no beauty we possess ever attracts him to us. We are just his kids.

He loved us when we were covered with cinders and when all our good works are still no more than ashes. He won't let sin and death get in the way, and His Spirit is making us His even as we're still sweeping the fireplace.

He lifts us from the ash heap. (I Sam. 2:8, Ps. 113:7)

He will come and marry His bride. (Rev. 22:12-17)

Sometimes it's good to get out of our heads and think back to what we've most fiercely longed for, far too deeply to ever admit. And read and listen and (with much grace and God's good hope) discover that LOVE is on the throne.

and is taking a wife.

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