Sat. May 25th, 2024

By: Mike

It was a quiet evening on Christmas Eve in the farmyard barn and all the animals together with the birds of the air were restless. As they began to settle down for the night, the wise old Barn Owl began a quiet conversation with the others.

“Hoo, hoo” she asked aloud, “who is God’s favourite?” “Me, me” answered the Peacock as he spread his truly beautiful tail feathers for all to see. “Why of course it is I” he proudly boasted. “I am the most beautiful creature on God’s good earth” he called out as he strutted up and down the barn.

“Beautiful indeed” called back the mother hen, “and haven’t you ever looked down at your feet?” With that, the peacock deflated his beautiful tail feathers and bowed his head in shame. For you see, he already knew about his feet. He had heard the story that when God discovered that the first peacock was committing the sin of pride, He turned his feet inwards as a punishment.

“Hoo, hoo then?” again asked the barn owl. A tiny voice answered: “It could be I” the tiny Goldcrested Wren tried to raise his voice in order to be heard. “After all, I am the King of All Birds. I tricked the great Eagle by hiding among his feathers and when he had reached as high as he could fly, I flew twelve feet higher. I was crowned King and have the mark of a King on my forehead”. “True, true” came a chorus from some of the animals and all of the birds.

The barn owl interrupted. “Is it not also true” she asked, “that it was you who betrayed Jesus in the garden by whistling and whistling until the soldiers came and found Him where you were calling from? We all know what happened then. They took Him away and we all know the result of your twittering”.

The next to speak was the Robin Redbreast. “It was I who tried to wipe the blood from His hands and feet when He was nailed to the Cross. For that, he gave me my red breast. I think it might be me”.

The sheep began to baa in unison. “We visited him after He was born in the stable and gave our wool for His swaddling clothes and as bedding in the manger. He loved us dearly and even called Himself the Good Shepherd as our reward. We stand a good chance”.

One of the old cows began to moo. “You were not the only ones there: when His Mother Mary was tired, we gave our milk to feed Him”.

The conversation began to get noisier as each and every animal and bird tried to make their point until the din became too loud. “Shush” called out the Barn Owl, “or you will have the farmer wondering what is going on. I notice that you” indicating the Donkey “have little to say, what is your story?” the owl asked.

“I may not be beautiful like the rest of you, nor give fine wool or milk” the donkey spoke quietly and gently. “I was not there when He was on the Cross, but yes, I think that Jesus would still call me his best friend”. A riotous chorus erupted. “Why” said the horse “you look nothing like a proper horse. You are too small. You are smelly and as for moving fast – I have seen a snail move faster”.

“Another thing” the goat called out “whenever Jesus was seen with you, people used to call out ‘Here comes the one with the long hair and his little smelly ass'”. All began to laugh at the little donkey until the barn owl scolded them. “Let him have his say” she demanded.

The donkey smiled and slowly continued. “You see, I was the one who carried Mary from Nazareth to Bethlehem when she was almost ready to give birth. I never complained once. It was I who gave the warmth and heat in the stable before the shepherds and sheep arrived. It was I who carried them into the desert when the soldiers were searching for Him and killing all the little babies. I saved him you know”. As he paused, there was not a sound from the other animals and birds.

“Well then” sneered the fox who had sneaked in through a wooden gap in the side of the barn. “What reward did He give you?” “I never asked for one” the donkey proudly replied. “I did everything I was supposed to do without complaint. Of course I would like to have been more clever, more beautiful, much faster and less smelly, but that was not to be. He did however give me something to be extra proud of. You see this cross upon my back” he said as he stood sideways. “He put that there to remind everyone and in particular myself that I was the friend of Jesus and no one can ever take that away from me”.

“Hoo, hoo…..who else?” asked the Barn Owl……..but there was absolute silence as all the animals and birds stood quietly with their heads bowed….

By karlsie

Some great perversity of nature decided to give me a tune completely out of keeping with the general symphony; possibly from the moment of conception. I learned to read and speak almost simultaneously. The blurred and muffled world I heard through my first five years of random nerve loss deafness suddenly came alive with the clarity of how those words sounded on paper. I had been liberated for communications. I decided there was nothing more wonderful than writing. It was easier to write than carefully modulate my speech for correct pronunciation, and it was easier to read than patiently follow the movements of people’s lips to learn what they were saying. It was during that dawning time period, while I slowly made the connection that there weren’t that many other people who heard the way I did, halfway between sound and music, half in deafness, that I began to understand that the tune I was following wasn’t quite the same as that of my classmates. I was just a little different. General education taught me not only was I just a little isolated from my classmates, my home was just a little isolated from the outside world. I was born in Alaska, making me part of one of the smallest, quietest minorities on earth. I decided I could live with this. What I couldn’t live with was discovering a few years later, in the opening up of the pipeline, which coincided with my first year of junior college, that there were entire communities of people; more than I could possibly imagine; living impossibly one on top of another in vast cities. It wasn’t even the magnitude of this vision that inspired me so much as the visitors who came from these populous regions and seemed to possess a knowledge so great and secretive I could never learn it in any book. I became at once, very conscious of how rural I was and how little I knew beyond the scope of my environment. I decided it was time to travel. The rest is history; or at least, the content of my stories. I traveled... often to college campuses, dropping in and out of school until one fine day by chance I’d fashioned a bachelor of arts degree in psychology. I’ve worked a couple of newspapers, had a few poems and stories tossed around in various small presses, never receiving a great deal of money, which I’m assured is the norm for a writer. I spent ten years in Mexico, watching the peso crash. There is some obscure reason why I did this, tightening up my belt and facing hunger, but I believe at the time I said it was for love. Here I am, back home, in my beloved Alaska. I’ve learned somewhat of a worldly viewpoint; at least I like to flatter myself that way. I’ve also learned my rural roots aren’t so bad after all. I work in a small, country store. Every day I greet the same group of local customers, but make no mistake. My store isn’t a scene out of Andy Griffith. The people who enter the establishment, which also includes showers, laundry and movie rentals, are miners, oil workers, truck drivers, construction engineers, dog sled racers and carpenters. Sometimes, on the liquor side, the conversations became adult only in vocabulary. It’s a good thing, on the opposite side of the store is a candy aisle filled with the most astonishing collection, it will keep a kid occupied with just wishing for hours. If you tell your kids they can have just one, you have an instant baby sitter; better than television; as they agonize over their choice while you catch up on the gossip with your neighbor. We also receive a lot of tourists, a lot of foreign visitors. They are usually amazed at this first sign of Alaskan rural life style beyond the insulating hub of the Anchorage bowl. Many of them like to hang around and chat. They gawk at our thieves wanted posters. They laugh at our jokes and camaraderie with our customers. I’ve learned another lesson while working there. You don’t have to go out and find the world. If you wait long enough, it comes to you.

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2 thoughts on “The Little Donkey’s Story…. A Children’s Tale”
  1. It is wonderful to read your words Mike. And this is a truly beautiful Christmas story. I’d like to share it with my nieces. Merry Christmas!!

  2. This should be made into a children’s book, complete with glossy illustrations. “The Friendly Beasts” was one of my favorite childhood Christmas songs. There was something that stirred me so completely with the words, “I, said the donkey, shaggy and brown. I carried his mother up hill and down. I carried her safely to Bethlehem town. I, said the donkey, shaggy and brown.”

    It is the humble who receive the sweetest fruits, for theirs is a world of simplicity and enchantment. Thank you Mike, for this reminder.

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