My family joined with friends to see the latest “Cinderella” movie last night. This familiar tale, retold by Disney in an unfamiliar way, teaches uncommon truths.
I didn’t recognize her at first. Not until the very end. Yet, with my children, I marveled at her magnanimous spirit, her humility, her service, her enduring kindness and selflessness, her sacrifice and love. She never once complained, never once put on airs, never once placed herself above (or before) anyone else, never once asserted her rights.
Though the child of loving and glorious parents — and heir! — she became an orphan, forsaken and outcast. Though the greatest among them, she became the least. Though once surrounded by servants who waited on her, she became the servant of all. Though more beautiful and radiant than the rest, she was a “nobody” hidden from view. Though arriving with a glorious entourage, she appeared to the world unrecognized and unheralded. Though many marveled at her grace, none claimed her as their own. Though she was hated and envied, despised and reviled, her compassion extended to the lowest and most vile. Though she was betrayed and scorned and ridiculed by those who should have been her kin -- and loved her! -- she did not rend again.
Her name was “Ella” (meaning “light” or “all”), but having forsaken all by sacrifice and surrender, she condescended to dust and ashes and was given the new name “Cinderella”. Thus she would ever after be known among men.
But her destiny was far greater.
She did not seek for fame or glory, nor did she strive to rule or claim her place. She only sought to serve and submit and to give her all when asked.
And the heavens smiled.
When he who would be king at last had found her, she revealed to him her true identity by embracing her new name: All Light in Ashes. She confessed she had nothing else to offer him. But for him, she was enough! He had sought her diligently and found her, forsaking all others. And he loved her! For he recognized that — without her kindness and courage suffusing all she touched, her grace and virtue and beauty — his glory as king would be misery and his kingdom without her forfeit.
She loved him, too, once she saw how much he loved the King, his Father, and how he was willing to lay down his own life for the kingdom. She fondly called this “apprentice” by his familiar name and he knew that only one who truly knew him and loved him, even from the beginning, would ever deign to do so.
So he knelt before her — offering her his hand, his heart, his kingdom and all he had — while she offered to him the only token by which she could be recognized by all.
And thus, finding themselves together again at last,
they lived happily ever after.