One knight stepped forward. “It is my pleasure to announce Princess Lilianna. The Princess-Of-All-Princesses. The most beautiful Princess in all the Kingdom. The most wise Princess in all the Kingdom. And above all, the kindest in all the Kingdom.”
How could kindness be more important than beauty? What a silly thing to say. Rose leaned forward in anticipation of her first glimpse.
The curtain separated and out stepped….there must be a mistake.
This simply could not be!
Rose stared, not believing her eyes. Instead of the beautiful princess she’d expected out stepped a wrinkled and bent-over old lady. She reminded Rose of a gnarled old tree that no longer bore fruit or even leaves.
This had to be a joke.
Everyone knew the Princess-of-all-Princesses was the most beautiful in all the kingdom. This was not beauty. In fact, it was quite the opposite—almost repulsive.
The knights each took an arm and helped the old woman to the stage and then gently lifted her onto the throne as if she was the most precious of cargo.
Rose heard the whispers around her. No doubt asking exactly what was wondering herself. Once the ugly old lady was seated on the throne, Princess Michella motioned for them to sit.
Rose looked around, still waiting for something miraculous to happen.
But it didn’t.
Instead the musicians lead the procession out of the Great Hall.
Princess Lilianna, if it indeed was her, looked around the room. Her gaze met Rose’s for just a moment before it moved on to the next girl and the next and the next.
Finally, the old lady giggled then looked at them. “I have a feeling I’m not exactly what you expected. All your life you’ve been told I’m the most beautiful in all the kingdom. And yet this is what you see.”
She touched her shoulders. “And perhaps I was at one time. I will let others be the judge of that. But physical beauty is fleeting. Much better is the beauty that comes from our Creator which each of us have within us. And much like a rose, we must nurture it if it is to flourish.”
The little old lady clasped her hands to her heart, her eyes moved heavenward. As did Rose’s. It was the custom to look heavenward when speaking of or to the Creator.
“Oh Good and Holy Creator, you have outdone yourself with this group. So beautiful. Help these dear children to continue to grow in beauty. Real beauty. The beauty that comes only from you. The Kingdom, myself included, is so grateful for this so very special group of Princesses-In-Training. Thank you and may you guide my words today as you guide their feet as they begin their One True Journey. ”
Each word warmed Rose’s heart and filled her with such a feeling of love and acceptance. Never had she felt so special.
When Rose looked back. The old lady was still there, but no longer repulsive in the least. In fact, Rose could see the beauty that all in the Kingdom spoke of. The wonder of the Creator shone from her in every way. The kindness in her eyes shared the love of the Creator with each that met her gaze.
Surely, Princess Lilianna was the most beautiful in all the Kingdom.
“Ah—my favorite day of the year. The Ceremony of the Blessed Vessel. As you know, each year all the thirteen-year-old maidens in the Kingdom gather for this very special day. It is the day you begin your One True Journey. And a very special journey it will be.”
Special indeed. Rose’s journey would end when she found her one true love and became his Princess.
“In a moment each of you shall receive a gift from the Creator.”
Rose tingled with excitement. Finally. Her own Blessed Vessel.
Princess Michella chimed in. “Just as all the Knights-In-Training are receiving theirs as well. Of course, their Gift from the Creator is much different than yours, and surely not as beautiful.” She clapped her hands. “Then tonight will be the Ball. Oh, so much fun. A night you will never forget.”
Princess Lilianna smiled with indulgence.
Princess Michella looked horrified. “Oh, please forgive me.”
“Nothing to forgive, my child. Enthusiasm is a good thing.”
“Still it’s a time for listening, not speaking. Well, speaking for you, not for me.” Princess Michella shook her head as if confused. “Please continue.”
“First we must talk about your One True Journey. From the moment we are born each of us begin our journey but now it’s time to begin your One True Journey. Some of you already know your path or at least believe you know the path of your One True Journey. Others do not.”
There could only be one path for Rose. To become a Princess.
“Each path is different but the destination is the same. And remember, no matter the path, each is noble. However what is not noble is a journey with no destination.”
Destination? This was the first Rose had heard of this. What could it mean? She’d always thought her One True Journey was about finding her one true love. But now she wasn’t so sure.
“Sadly, some will ignore their One True Journey the Creator has planned for you. Instead they will choose to take a journey with no destination. It may seem easier at times, but it is not noble. It will not bring you happiness nor will it strengthen the Kingdom. And make no mistake, each of us was born to strengthen the Kingdom. The Kingdom needs each of us to complete our One True Journey if it is to remain strong.”
The One True Journey was about making the Kingdom strong? Rose hadn’t known that. She’d always thought it was about finding happiness—and that meant finding her one true love.
But Princess Lilianna’s words seemed to be saying something different than Rose had ever thought.
“Every young woman in the kingdom receives a Creator’s Gift in her thirteenth year and so shall each of you. Each gift is different than any that have come before or will come after. How that can be? No one knows except for The Creator himself, of course. As you will soon see, the Creator knows much about you.”
Impossible. Surely, the Creator didn’t know Rose. She shuddered at the thought. It was terrifying to think about, actually. It was only yesterday that she’d hit her little brother in a fit of anger. A very wrong thing to do.
Surely, she hadn’t pleased the Creator. Maybe she wouldn’t get a gift or it wouldn’t be as nice as everybody else’s. She promised she would do better next time. Be kinder to everyone, especially her baby brother.
“Today each of you begin your One True Journey. Just as the Creator’s Gift is the same and yet different, so will your One True Journey be. Each journey is different but the destination is the same.”
UNTIL NEXT TIME…GOD BLESS & GOOD READING!