Book Club Blog


Princes, Peas and Grace

There’s an old fairy tale about a prince who was looking to marry a princess.  His mom was not at all keen on this idea.  She had one of those unhealthy attachments to her son, and really wanted him to stay close to home.  She knew she'd never win that argument, though, so she decided to make it really difficult for any potential princess to pass “the test.”

Mother and son surveyed the kingdom and interviewed every woman of marrying age.  One day the prince met the girl of his dreams.  He asked her to spend a weekend at the palace, to find out if royal living was her thing.  That’s when Mom made her move.

Her litmus test was a pea – a hard little slip of a legume she would place under the potential princess’s mattress to test the woman’s sensitivity.  The mother offered the son a deal.  If the girl felt the pea, she was the one.  If not, they'd keep looking.  Mom knew her son would never settle for second best.  If she could foil this relationship, she'd have him to herself for life.

Naively, the prince agreed to his mother's plan and hoped for the best. It was a deal.  In theory.

The problem was, this particular prince’s mother was shifty.  She didn't just drop a pea beneath the mattress.  She piled a dozen mattresses one on top of the other, then slipped that tiny, insignificant bump of a thing underneath the pile.  What human being could possibly sense that beneath that mountain of mattresses?  The mom went to bed satisfied that she'd have her boy under her roof for years to come.  She would not have to share his heart with anyone.

The princess came for the anticipated visit and wowed everyone, especially the prince.  Clearly this was the woman for him, and she felt the same.  All that stood between them and wedded bliss was the mother's test.

That’s when the prince first noticed the pile of mattresses.  As he said goodnight to his beloved, he saw inside the room a mountain of mattresses.  And then, the sly grin on his mother’s face.  His heart sank.  He’d been had by his own mother.  There would be no wedding, no marriage, no happily ever after, after all.  They went off to their respective beds – and, the prince assumed – to their doom.

Next morning, the prince slinked into the breakfast room to admit defeat.  There, he met his princess and his mother at the breakfast table.   Mom looked rough, but the princess looked rougher.  Really rough.  Bags under her eyes, hair in every direction, grimace on her face as she slurped her coffee.  Had they talked?  Had his mother already claimed victory?

“What’s the matter, dearest?” the prince asked, tentatively.  “I am ashamed,” said the princess.  “I should be a more gracious guest.  However, I have just shared with your mother that I hardly slept at all last night.  While I am forever grateful for your hospitality, I have to tell you that the lump in your guest bed is beyond escaping.  I tried everything, but to no avail, and now I am drained.”

At that, the prince grabbed his beloved up from the chair on which she perched and danced her around the room, sounds of wedding music in his head.  She was even more amazing than he'd dreamed!

Meanwhile, his mother slumped down into her chair, eyes narrowed, spirit defeated.

And the moral of the story is that our Prince isn’t at all offended when we acknowledge the sins buried beneath the surface.  In fact, they may be the very thing we need to feel before we can truly enter into a relationship with him.