What starts like a scary tale ends like a fairytale


Earlier this week,  I was housebound by a cold of truly epic proportions.  (I still have it, but I’m no longer housebound.  You can only write so many days of substitute lesson plans before throwing in the towel and hauling your sick carcass back to the classroom).   Anyhow, as I lay on the sofa groaning, the boys and  I re-watched The Court Jester, a wonderful old movie from the 1950s.

Have you seen it?  It’s hard to classify: a musical/comedy/swashbuckling adventure featuring Danny Kaye and Glynis Johns and an extraordinarily young Angela Lansbury.  It’s about a tyrant king who has usurped the throne from the real royal family, and the band of Robin-Hood-esque outlaws who try to overthrow him.  It’s quirky and delightfully weird, with swordfights  and cardboard-looking castles and great character actors.  Think of it as the grandfather of “The Princess Bride.”  It also features this famously marvelous bit of verbal play:

The movie also has a catchy opening song, which functions as a sort of preview of the story.  The final verse of the song tells us to expect a happy ending, promising that “what starts like a scary tale ends like a fairytale.”

I’ve heard that line many times before. This time, however, it occurred to me that that’s actually the perfect way to describe what happens over these three days of the liturgical calendar.  Good Friday is scary; very scary.  It’s painful and disheartening and sad.

And yet if we can hang in there for two days, something beautiful happens on Sunday.   The sadness is transformed into joy.   The scary tale becomes a fairytale.    And because of it, we all get to live happily ever after.

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