I saw the sign on the roadside a time or two. It advertised a live nativity two nights in a row, a few hours each. The sign made no promises and I neglected to research further the forthcoming nativity in live format. My expectations were not excessively high. We approached the address with the trepidation that accompanies the uncertainty of unknown situations. The Saturday night air was breezy and slightly chilly. As we made our way to the simple setup we were offered hot chocolate and cookies by smiling ladies underneath a tent.
“Help yourself, be careful it’s hot.” My children have never said no to an offered treat. They reached for those cookies and molten chocolate like starved men in the arctic might.
We walked a few feet away from the refreshment tent to a place where there was a single street light and a few spotlights illuminating a manger with a Mary and a Joseph and real live baby. Mary seemed a bit geriatric compared to the OG Mary aged fourteen. There were some wise guys in fancy dress, a shepherd or two, all under the age of fifteen and more in line with the original Mary’s adolescent age. There were some sheep, a couple of goats, and a donkey. A miniature donkey to be exact.
I love a donkey. I giggled when I saw him.
“You can pet ‘em of you want.” A voice said from the darkness. The soft sound of “Away in a Manger” played in the background.
My husband knows my affinity for a donkey and nudged me in its direction. I hesitated. I began to step forward and then I paused. I just wasn’t sure about petting one of the main players in the night’s nativity. He nudged me again, and whispered to me, “Go pet it, you know you have always wanted to.” I step forward and I remembered some of my favorite things I relate to donkeys. Like donkeys bear a cross in their backs because they once carried a King on a Sunday now known as Palm Sunday and legend says they were so marked by the moment the breed remains that way to this day. Donkeys have a reputation for being stubborn but in fact they are careful thinkers, and if they consider a situation unsafe they will avoid it. Donkeys can see all four of their feet at the same time.
I reached for the donkey and petted him on the head. He hardly noticed, the burning of tears filled my eyes. I recalled my favorite quote pertaining to the donkey, the one that says, “Do you believe the donkey who carried Christ really thought all that cheering and excitement was for him?” When I heard that statement for the first time I made a mental note, a vow of sorts. I want to be like that donkey. I want to carry Christ wherever I go, and I truly desire for Him to be glorified as I do.
They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. Matthew 21:7