Food for the Road 12: Donkey days

Today was definitely a donkey day for me: a day of slow, but determined plodding through a never-ending to-do list of administrative tasks and unpleasant chores accompanied by the incessant throbbing of a mild lack-of-sleep-lack-of-coffee headache ….

Picture the poor little donkey that had to walk all of those miles to Bethlehem with a heavily pregnant Mary on his back.

Picture it, because although commonly portrayed in art and on Christmas cards, dear donkey does not appear at all in the Gospel accounts (though the tradition does stem from other early Christian writings).

Yet, it is a treasured part of the Godly Play story of the Holy Family:

Here is the donkey that Mary rode when she and Joseph went to Bethlehem to be counted by the Roman soldiers. Mary was about to have a baby, so it was hard for her to walk. Sometimes she rode on the donkey. It is also hard to ride on a donkey when you are about to have a baby. Sometimes she got down and walked.

The donkey was in the stable when the baby was born. He was surprised to find a baby in the feed box, the manger, where he expected to find his breakfast.

Jerome Berryman

I love that the donkey has made it in to our traditions, our stories, our imaginings. Just like I love the way that God makes it in to each moment in which I am open and attentive (and even sometimes when I’m not) – especially on mundane days like these.

So, take a breath; see how God shows up – and maybe even take a moment to share that story with another because it might be just what they need to get through another day.

About Yvonne Ghavalas

A minister in the Uniting Church in Australia, sharer of stories, sandwich enthusiast, seeker, and sometimes fool (archaic), sporadic blogger at

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