Although everyone knows the Cinderella fairy-tale, I discovered some illuminating spiritual aspects that may appeal to you. But first some background. The story exists in a similar form in many cultures and in many countries, including China and Africa. The “modern” story is attributed to Charles Perrault, a Frenchman who wrote it in 1697. The Grimm brothers created another version at some later time.
Yes, I will also mention a Cinderella team in the NCAA basketball tournament (plus some spiritual learnings from there). The coach married a super-model, and their first date was a hoot…..see below.
Some highlights of the Perrault version of the fairy-tale:
• Cinderella was a beautiful girl, who was raised in a warm and loving home.
• Her mother died, and her father re-married an abusive woman.
• This stepmother reduced Cinderella to a servant maid.
• The name Cinderella comes from the fact that she slept in a cold cellar as close as possible to a fire, and sometimes awoke covered in ashes (cinders).
• The girl is beautiful inside as well as outside…..she carried out her chores diligently without complaining; much later she invited her ugly step-sisters to her wedding (think of Joseph in the Bible).
• She was prevented from attending the ball until the fairy-godmother (read: God or an angel) stepped in, and converted a pumpkin into a coach, mice into horses, and a rat into a coachman (think: anything is possible with God).
• At the ball, after the Prince fell in love and danced with her all night, Cinderella escaped but lost one glass slipper. Since she had to return to her servant status, she must have been terribly depressed. A wonderful evening of love and dancing, but nothing else to look forward to (think: she did not know that “heaven” was just around the corner).
• By using the slipper-foot test, the Prince pursued and found Cinderella (think: God loves us so much). And he married her and restored her original status (think of redemption by the Christ of Easter).
“Redemption” is an old-fashioned word that is not used much anymore. It basically means “saved”. Saved from what? In this case Cinderella was saved from the pitiful life of an abused servant. Saved to what? A new life of respect and love and joy with the Prince (think of Joseph again). Many believers will confirm they have been saved by Christ from the hurt or distress of sin, and transformed to become a child of God with renewed status, joy and hope. Do you suppose in a spiritual sense we believers are all Cinderellas? It’s an intriguing thought for this Good Friday when a mangled body hung on a splintered cross at the first Easter…….the means by which we are transformed.
Why does God let us stay in a difficult spot in our relationships, our jobs, our finances, our health (think of the Hebrews being slaves in Egypt for 400 years)? There is no easy answer to this question. We have to tie a knot in the rope and hold on as best we can. But we also pray and try something different, and pray and try something different again, because Jesus told us to. Then sometimes God intervenes, everything changes, and it seems like a miracle.
We can also be a fairy godmother (think: angel) to someone who is going through a rough time……. we can help someone to hope. We only need to be aware and open to this (i.e. not totally self-absorbed) since there are Cinderella-abuses everywhere: in our home city, and in Haiti, the Sudan, and Sumatra, for example. Easter is a good time to reach out!
Lastly, to a Cinderella at the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament.
Florida Gulf Coast University (the Eagles) made history last Sunday, becoming the first ever 15th seed to advance to the Sweet 16. FGCU first opened its doors to students in 1997. The university only became eligible for postseason play last year. Their 81-71 win over seven-seeded San Diego State came two days after an upset of second-seeded Georgetown. The inspired Eagles were transformed over the weekend from an unknown to a beloved Cinderella. They next play their stateside compatriots Florida, an elephant by history and experience, this Friday evening (actually Good Friday).
Point guard Brett Comer was the conductor, swiveling passes to spaces that seemed improbable, and then out of nowhere would come a blue jersey. But the highlight of the game was an Eagles alley-oop that outdid all other plays of the evening. “Dunk City” was what one of the Eagles players called Fort Myers, Florida, where the school is located. The Eagles arrived at the tournament as Fort Myers’ team. By late Sunday night, they were America’s team.
Just like in their opening win over second-seeded Georgetown, there were plenty of laughs, dunks, and dances. “We don’t take ourselves too seriously,” said Florida Gulf Coast coach Andy Enfield, whose players tossed him in the air and doused him with water in a raucous celebration at the end of the game. “We try to have fun, but get serious when we have to”. Even when the game was tight, he and his teammates looked like they were glad to be on the court. There were big smiles and high-fives. In short, they showed a kind of joy that’s often missing from high stakes, high drama games in March. And after it was all over, the whole team joined in a bird dance that the players on the bench had been doing during the game.
“I know I can say for all the players, this was the biggest game for us. None of us have played on this stage,” Brett Comer said. “We are blessed to be here”. When they beat San Diego State, FGCU played like it had nothing to lose. And really, the Eagles didn’t. Given their school’s short history, nobody expected them to win a game at the NCAA tournament, let alone two. “We want to get out and run,” Comer said. “We’re just having so much fun”.
The italics marked above remind me of Christian attitude……or at least what it should be. In THE BIBLE series, currently playing on the History channel on Sunday nights, Jesus seems to be having fun. Not all the time, no, as there were serious moments certainly…..like the time he forgave and released the woman caught in adultery, when everyone fully expected her to be stoned to death. But on other occasions a small smile seemed to play on his lips for much of the time, as if he knew something the folks around him did not know.
And why should we not wear a small smile at the corners of our mouth also? We have been saved from the emptiness or futility of a life without God. Our life has been transformed, with a direct connection to the God of the galaxies. Why shouldn’t we, in the hustle and bustle of our own lives, stand up and declare “We are blessed to be here” and “we want to get out and run” and “we don’t take ourselves too seriously”? Why can’t we show “a kind of joy that’s often missing from high stakes, high drama” situations in our lives? After all, like Jesus, we do know something special.
Post-script: Coach Enfield’s wife was a super-model. They met when he offered a ride to a basketball game. On their first date, he asked her out to another basketball game with dinner afterward, but all the restaurants were closed. They went to Taco Bell, where she ordered a burrito. How to impress a lady. It must have been some burrito! They were engaged six months later after he proposed by squeezing a ring in between two donuts in a Krispy Kreme box! Nine years later they have three children. You will probably see her and the kids on TV if you watch the game this Friday night.
The Gray Nomad.
Probing the practice of Christian believers……
“Therefore if any person is (ingrafted) in Christ, the Messiah, he is a new creature altogether; the old (previous moral and spiritual condition) has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come!” (2 Corinthians, chapter 5, Amplified Bible).
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