sleeping beloved

The Sleeping Beloved

“Sleeping Beauty” was my favorite story growing up.  Perhaps it was Aurora’s lovely blonde locks, or perhaps it was how much Prince Philip loved her and fought for her.  Probably both.  Either way, I was convinced I would be just like Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty”, fairy friends and all. 

And then I grew up – and made a mess of everything.  I fell into my own “death-like sleep,” only to be re-awakened by Christ’s inexplicable love…

sleeping beloved

The First ‘Sleeping Beauty’

You have just read the original Sleeping Beauty tale.  Yes, that’s right.  The first Sleeping Beloved is the first human ever created: the man, Adam.  This story is special, as it occurs before the Fall of mankind.  It shows the ideal Sleeping Beloved, where there are no curses, only blessings.  What is taken is done in love, without pain, and is immediately returned seven-fold…

sleeping beloved

Our True Identity

From the beginning, God is very clear on how He sees us.  Read the verse above again.  Let it sink in.  Revel in the fact that we were made in His own image

You, my dear reader, are made in the image of a Holy and Loving God.  Therein lies your value, your worth, your identity.  And God does not hold His image-bearers cheaply, but has spilled lavish blood to redeem you.  You are, after all, His Beloved…

sleeping beloved

The Sleeping Beauty’s Identity

The defining trait of our “Sleeping Beauty” is that she must not touch a spindle (or flax, if you read the earlier versions), or else she will die.

This is a strange “curse” to our modern ears, for we’ve lost the significance of spinning in our culture.  Before the Industrial Revolution in the late 18th century, every stitch of cloth came into being through the work of women…

sleeping beloved

Following the Spindle’s Thread

It’s time to meet our “Sleeping Beauties”!  The following versions are the ones most clearly showing a turn in the thread of the story.  There are, of course, hundreds of stories tracing their lineage back to the ones listed here.  

The tale we know today as “Sleeping Beauty” has its roots in the Norse and Germanic myths of Brunhild and Sigurd…

sleeping beloved

Introducing the Lovely Zellandine

The first Sleeping Beloved we’ll cover is Zellandine, whose story is just a small part of a larger saga called Perceforest: The Prehistory of King Arthur’s Britain.

The entire work is an anachronism.  It’s “a veritable encyclopaedia of 14th century chivalry,” but the stories describe events after Alexander the Great’s (fictitious) conquering of Britain and his naming of Perceforest as king of England…

sleeping beloved

Troylus the Loveless Knight

Troylus is not in love – and in Perceforest this is a dangerous thing.  For a man can only be a truly great knight if he is inspired by love.  Only love can cause a knight to fight boldly, honorably, and with great prowess.  If a man has no love, his deeds will fade away…

sleeping beloved

Patience, Pride, and Love

Zellandine has been waiting patiently for someone to be worthy of her love.  Yes, she is “much taken” with Troylus; but she does not give him her heart.   Rather, she gives Troylus the opportunity to pursue her: will he offer to take the shield, the symbol of her love?  Or will he fall back on his pride, like all the others?   

Paul points out the dichotomy between love and pride in 1 Corinthians 13.  Simply put, pride is selfishly placing your desires before another’s needs.  Certainly there must be a give and take in a relationship; but a prideful person only knows how to take, and has trouble giving…

sleeping beloved

Zellandine’s Death-Like Sleep

Zellandine’s tale began with the importance of pure love, agape.  The love between a man and woman is meant as an allegory of God’s agape for us (this is true regardless of whether the lovers are believers in Christ).  So, when Troylus and Zellandine fall in love, it is an allegory of God’s love for His Beloved.   

But we live in a fallen world.  The feelings of eros – desire (which is a fancy word for lust) – can be confused with agape.  Although Zellandine’s story begins with agapeeros is quick to take hold, as shown through Venus’ involvement in her story…

sleeping beloved

The Mistakes of Troylus

After arriving in Zeeland only to forget and then remember his identity (a plot twist inspired by Brunhild’s story), Troylus is finally on his way to Zellandine.  

He goes to the temple of the three goddesses and prays to Venus – his first mistake.  Yes, it’s the 1st century BC; but the author has made it clear that Troylus knows of and acknowledges the Sovereign God…yet he goes to the temple of the goddess of “love” looking for answers.  He has opened the door to lust, and as James 1:15 points out, sin and death will follow…