Joseph man calls to me, “Donkey!” in Aramaic, but I not listen. These four legs want to quick 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, he 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.” I look over. 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, my 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 lets out fat laugh. “Will you look at that little donkey? He will never make it up these mountains!” The other peoples 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, yet I shiver. Mary lady cold. Joseph man take blankets to wrap onto her. He gather sticks to make fire on the ground. “This will keep us warm,” he says. “It will freeze tonight.”
In the fire light, Mary lady take hard bread from a sack and put oil and herb on it. She unwrap dry fish for to eat with the bread. Joseph man come. He loose my tether. I forage along the riverbank, chew tree bark, and take drink. My belly soon will not look so big. He sit down next to Mary lady for eat by the fire on the ground.
Later, Joseph man lays awake. He says sleep will not come. I, too, hear howl of coyote and rush of wild boar come near. Mary lady awakens with a scare. I feel a scare, too. Mary lady says prayer. She says she talk to God often. I just Khmaarraa and do not know many things. I not see this God of whom she speaks; I think in my mind God must be good listener.
Joseph man tries not to do complain, but he saying the journey is “grueling.” I think he tired. “Long days, long nights,” he says, “and tomorrow will be ten days on these rocky goat trails—and now we’re getting rainstorms.”
I try not to do complain, but I tired, too.
Sudden thunder shake ground. I have scare. I bray and try to run. Joseph man run to me, make me still. Water pour from sky. Joseph man and Mary lady hold blanket over them, but rain soaking them. My fur soaking, too. I shiver in my legs.
May lady says her back is pain. My back is pain, too. Her foot is pain; my hoof is pain. Mary lady sometimes cry the tears, but not tell Joseph man. I feel cry inside too. Khmaarraa sad for Mary lady.
In the black night, big star shines bright. Joseph man comes shouting with dance in his arms and legs. “Come, look, Mary! I can see Bethlehem over the ridge!” Mary lady goes to stand with him. She looks out. I see happy water travel down from her eyes.
“Joseph,” Mary gasps, holding her abdomen. “We must hurry. I believe my time is near.” Joseph gathers supplies, then pulls on my rope. I tired, but he says to me, “Khmaarraa,” your legs must go fast. We must help Mary.”
Mary lady holds tight on my back. “Let’s go, Khmaarraa!” Joseph man yells.
I move quick, just like when I run my four legs fast to the Jordan.
Cold wind bite my nose until we in Bethlehem town.
“I can’t believe how many people are here,” Joseph man says.
“We must find a place quickly, Joseph,” Mary lady says.
We go to Inn for Joseph man to make talk to Innkeeper. “Please, we need a room. This woman 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. Then, a human-kind sees Joseph man leading me and Mary lady riding upon me. 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 here.
Joseph makes fast to help Mary lady. I put head down to eat. But Joseph man says, “Wait, Khmaarraa.” He makes me to move. He take hay to make place for Mary lady. He take hay for to put in manger.
Bright star shines down making light. Joseph man he give to me quick the hay to eat and water to drink. Soon I hear cry—not Mary lady cry—baby cry.
Joseph man and Mary lady shout happy words to God. I just Khmaaraa, donkey, but I know special time has come. Bright light shining down. Then Joseph man look. He says, “The Wise Men come bearing gifts from afar.” I glad Joseph man know of smart men.
Joseph man look at me and little baby in Mary lady arms. They smile. I think they smile to me.
I glad to be Khmaaraa donkey, Jerusalem donkey. It is true. I have “fur ridge,” they say, “in the shape of a cross on my back.” I glad to carry Mary lady to stable. Now, she have baby. Special baby, they say, “Son of God.” I do not know these things. I only small donkey, but I glad helper for Mary lady. We go long way this journey.
Joseph man and Mary lady look at the sky. They say big “Thank you” to God.
I do not know these things like human-kind, but I happy for Joseph man and Mary lady. I happy for baby, “Son of God.” Maybe he be good listener, too. Khmaarraa make bray sound in throat. Khmaarraa happy!
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 actually rode a donkey, but these animals were a common form of transportation at the time, and due to Mary being in her ninth month of pregnancy, it would have certainly made the journey for her a bit easier.
The Jerusalem (Nubian) donkey has a fur ridge on its back in the shape of a cross. We do not know if this was one of the donkeys that Jesus rode on Palm Sunday, but it is a possibility. And might this type of donkey also be the one used for Mary 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!
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