by David Sisler

She came into the store carrying several containers of jewelry boxes, bags and Tupperware bowls. With a nervous smile said, "I'm Martha. I called you about an appraisal."

For the next several hours we examined dozens of pieces.

There was a special story connected with many of them. I remember the airplane cuff links. Martha declined my offer to purchase them, explaining that they had belonged to her father.

The collection included a beautiful emerald cut diamond. It had been her engagement ring and since the divorce, some years earlier, it had not been worn.

Hesitantly at first, she began to talk about herself, and a customer became a friend.

She shared her daughter's wedding plans with me and she shared a mother's feelings about the marriage of her only daughter. She showed me Lynn's bridal photographs I think I saw them before Lynn did.

Then there was the fairy tale. Martha had gone to the mountains for a week-end vacation, and she and her automobile ended up in a ditch. That was when she met John. He stopped to assist her, and a romance began.

When Martha first told me about John, she was cautious. And they were cautious with each other. Old wounds still needed healing. Little by little, however, they opened up to each other and one Thursday afternoon they drove from North Carolina to Tennessee and were married.

They bought Martha's wedding ring in a jewelry store across from the court house. A preacher worked in the court house, so they walked down the hall and were married by the Reverend Mr. Loveday.

They shared their honeymoon meal at "The Cracker Barrel" restaurant. John, always the strong, silent type, succumbed to wedding day nerves. He ordered the Wednesday special. It was Thursday.

Their honeymoon trip was back to their home in North Carolina. They sat for a long time in the front porch swing.

A few days later John's vacation was over and he went back to work. He called Martha when he arrived at the factory, just like he'd done when they were dating. "I thought since we were married he might not call," Martha said. You could tell she was pleased he had.

Martha came back to Augusta to close the sale of her house and stopped in to tell us all the good news. In typical fashion, she nervously twisted her hands and said, "We did it! John and I got married last week!"

If ever I've seen a lady walking on the clouds, it was she. A newlywed of one week, and, more the bubbly bride than her daughter had been.

J. R. R. Tolkein, one of the great modern masters of the fairy tale, writes that the fairy tale "denies (in the face of much evidence, if you will) universal final defeat ... giving a fleeting glimpse of joy, joy beyond the walls of the world, poignant as grief."

And I think of another fairy tale.

It is about a king no one recognizes. He sleeps out in the open and depends on the kindness of others for his daily bread. The people of his day are so scandalized they ask, "Are you he who is to come?"

With the world's greatest attempt at humor his enemies write the joke. In fact, they wrote it in three languages so nobody would miss out on the laugh.

600 years later someone else wrote about that fairy tale (and you can hear it recited most Sunday mornings if you say it slowly enough so you can hear the words): He "suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried; He descended into hell; the third day He arose again from the dead."

It is God's fairy tale. And He expects us to believe it. If we believe it, he promises, we will live happily ever after!


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