Merry Christmas! A Christmas Short Story: "Through the Eyes of a Donkey" (Khmaaraa's Journey to Bethlehem)
Joseph man calls to me, “Donkey!” in Aramaic, but I do not listen. These four legs want to quickly run to the Jordan. Thirsty, I am!
Joseph man, grabs my tether. He shakes his head. “You must slow down, Khmaarraa. I do not want Mary to fall off!”
I bad! I forget I carry supplies and lady human. I bray. I am sorry. But Joseph man covers his ears. He does not understand my talk.
“A blessing to be here at the Jordan,” Mary lady says. Joseph man comes to help her down from my back. She puts her hand over a big bump under her wool cloak. Her belly, big like mine! Maybe she goes to eat as often as I go to pasture?
But no. I hear Mary Lady talk of a baby kicking. She makes a home for it inside her belly.
“We must go, Mary. There is no time to waste,” Joseph man say.
I look. I see Mary’s face is sad.
“I am hurting, Joseph. The ride is bumpy.”
“Maybe it would be best if you walk for a while.”
“Yes, perhaps so. You told me this would not be easy, Joseph, but I did not know the hills would be so steep and rocky.”
“I know, dear Mary. I wish I could make it more comfortable for you.”
My ears prick back. I hear sounds. I watch. Over the hill, others come. Soon, I see a rich man pass by with his entourage on fine, well-groomed donkeys. They are much larger than me. Joseph man and Mary lady look, too. Rich man gives a fat laugh. “Will you look at that little donkey? He will never make it up these mountains!” The other people with him laugh, too.
Joseph man and Mary lady pay no attention, but I feel sad all the way until the sun go to bed. Mary Lady says she glad to have small donkey. Better fit for her. I glad she like Khmaarraa.
My fur is thick, but I shiver. Mary lady cold, too. Joseph man to wrap her in blankets. He gathers sticks to make fire on the ground. “This will keep us warm,” he says.
In the firelight, Mary lady takes hard bread from a sack and pust oil and herbs on it. She unwraps dry fish to eat with the bread. Joseph man come. He loosens my tether. I forage along the riverbank, chew tree bark, and take drink. My belly will soon look big again. Joseph man sits next to Mary lady. They eat by fire.
Later, Joseph man lays awake. He says sleep will not come. My ears perk up. I hear the howl of coyote and rush of wild boar. Mary Lady awakens with a scare. I feel scared, too. Mary Lady says prayer. She talks to God a lot. But I, Khmaarraa, am just a donkey and do not know many things. Who is this God of whom she speaks? I do not know. But I think in my mind God must be a good listener.
Joseph man tries not to complain, but he says the journey is “grueling.” I think he tired. “Long days, long nights,” he says, “and tomorrow will be ten days on rocky goat trails—and now come rainstorms.”
I try not to complain, but am tired, too.
Sudden thunder shakes the ground. I have scare! I bray and start to run, but Joseph man comes to me. He makes me be still. Then, water pours from the sky. Joseph man and Mary lady hold a blanket over them, but rain soaks through. My fur is soaking too! I shiver in my legs.
Mary Lady says her back feels pain. My back has pain, too! Her foot feels pain; my hoof has pain! Mary Lady is crying tears but is not telling Joseph man. I feel the cry inside, too. Khmaarraa sad for Mary lady!
In the black night, a big star shines and makes light like the daytime. Joseph man comes shouting with dance in his arms and legs. “Come, look, Mary! I see Bethlehem over the ridge!” Mary Lady stands with him. She looks out. Happy water travels down from her eyes.
“Joseph,” Mary gasps, holding her abdomen. “We must hurry. My time is near.”
Joseph gathers supplies and pulls on my rope. I tired! But he say to me, “Khmaarraa, your legs must go fast. Mary needs our help.”
Mary Lady holds tight on my back.
“Let’s go, Khmaarraa!” Joseph man yells.
I move quickly, running my four legs fast to the Jordan. The cold wind bites my nose all the way to Bethlehem town.
“I can’t believe how many people are here,” Joseph man say.
“We must find a place quickly, Joseph,” Mary say. She put hand on her belly.
We go to Inn. Joseph man makes talk to Innkeeper. “Please, we need a room. My wife is going to give birth,” he says. But Innkeeper shake his head. He sorry. “There is no room in the Inn.”
We go more. We look and look. Then, a human-kind see Joseph man leading me and Mary lady riding. He makes talk to Joseph man. “You are welcome to stay in the stable,” he says.
The eyes of Joseph, they look like the sun gives shine! And Mary lady gives smile even though she makes groan.
We get to stable. I happy! Hay, water, other four legs are here.
Joseph makes quick to help Mary lady down. I hunger.. Want to eat. But Joseph man say, “Wait, Khmaarraa.” He asks me to move to make a place for Mary lady and puts hay in Manger. “This is for the baby, Khamarraa,” he says. “Your food is over there with the other animals.”
A bright star shine making great light. Joseph man give me hay to eat, water to drink. Soon I hear a cry—not Mary lady cry—baby cry.
Joseph man and Mary lady shout happy words to God. I just Khmaaraa—a donkey—but I know special time has come. Bright light from the sky shines. Joseph man look. He says, “The Wise Men come bearing gifts from afar.”
Joseph man look at me and little baby in Mary lady’s arms. They smile. I think they smile to me, too.
I am glad to be Khmaaraa donkey, Jerusalem donkey. It is true.
“You have a fur ridge,” Joseph man say, “in the shape of a cross on your back.”
I am glad to carry Mary lady to stable. Now, she have the baby. A special baby, they say, “Son of God.” I do not know these things. I only small donkey, but I am a glad helper for Mary Lady. We go long way on this journey.
Joseph man and Mary Lady look up in the sky. They say, “Thank you, God.”
I do not know these things like human-kind, but I am happy for Joseph man and Mary lady. I happy for baby. He “Son of God.”
Khmaarraa make bray sound in throat.
Merry Christmas from the perspective of the donkey who may have accompanied Mary and Joseph on their difficult journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Scripture does not specify if Mary rode a donkey, but these animals were a common form of transportation at the time. Due to Mary being in her ninth month of pregnancy, it would have certainly made the journey easier for her. And Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem before his crucifixion. We don’t know, but it is possible this could have been the same donkey.
The Jerusalem (Nubian) donkey has a fur ridge on its back in the shape of a cross. We do not know if this was the type of donkey that Jesus rode on Palm Sunday, but it is a possibility. And, might this also have been the type of donkey on which Mary rode as she carried the unborn Christ Child to Bethlehem?
We may never know the answers to these questions, but one thing is certain: the Savior, the King of the World, was born on that cold, still night over 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem.
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU! May the joy, peace, love, and hope of Christ be with you this season and through the new year to come!
Reprint of a story by Nancy Pelander Johnson, "Through the Eyes of a Donkey," Copyright December 15, 2020
Photo courtesy of Decheng at Pexels.com
If we were clocks, some of us would be in trouble!
"Wait a minute!" I begged my husband. "I promise I'll be ready soon," I said.
I'm always running behind. Do you ever feel that way? As the days count down to Christmas, the rush is on for us to accomplish everything on our to-do lists.
Time. We're wrapped up in it. The phrases we use demonstrate it's importance in our lives. In addition to "Wait a minute," we might say or hear, "Hold on a second," "It takes time," "It's about time," "Time flies," "Don't waste time," "The time is right," or "Don't be late!" You can probably think of others.
"Where is time when we need it?" we ask. "Can't we just have one quiet minute?"
One minute of our time is worth something, even though it's only a small percentage of the 1,440 minutes in our 24-hour day.
As Christmas approaches and we feel the sense of urgency to accomplish a lot of things, we may grow weary or impatient. How we wish we had more hours in the day!
When our children were young, I felt overwhelmed preparing for Christmas. My father-in-law said, "You're just spinning your wheels." I didn't want to believe him, but sometimes he was right. The time I spent worrying was time I could have put to good use.
I thought about taking just one minute of my busy day to close my eyes to rest or say a prayer. Those moments allowed me to re-focus and push the proverbial "reset" button.
Contemplating what the Bible has to say about time, I found many verses. Here are a few of them:
"He has the perfect timing: never early, never late. God is never in a hurry, but he is always on time." - Daniel 4:32
"With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day." - 2 Peter 3:8
"And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up." - Galatians 6:9
"Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed." - Mark 1:35
As you prepare for Christmas, may you find a quiet minute for your day, and may your comings and goings be kept in prayer for God's guidance for you.
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