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The donkey and the dreams, a Palm Sunday relfection

(This was originally published at my Times Union blog and is reprinted here)
Palm Sunday… The Donkey, a poem by G.K. Chesterton is a reminder of the place occupied by the donkey, and the dreams. Ah, the humility of the lowly creature that carried the Lord Jesus on its back, as the people flung and waved their palm branches, shouting, “Hosanna! Hosanna!” Ah, the need to be mindful of, and listen to our dreams, no matter where they may lead.

To remember that this donkey, called a colt in the Scriptures, but a donkey, an ass, is simply meant for carting and carrying goods. Such a lowly creature, a humble one, carrying the Lord Jesus, himself humble. To remember the role that dreams played in getting Jesus onto that donkey.

I think of the donkey that ferried Mary to Bethlehem. Another donkey probably was pressed into service when Joseph, Mary and the child Jesus fled from Herod’s clutch. And yet another likely brought them back to Nazareth from Egypt, after Joseph was informed in a yet another dream, that it was safe to return.

It was not safe to return to Jerusalem in the end, but Jesus knew that he must go there. He prays that this might pass, a reminder of his complete humanity. He goes anyway, a reminder of his complete divinity.

Ah, to be lowly creature that carried the Lord Jesus on its back, as the people flung and waved their palm branches, shouting, “Hosanna! Hosanna!” Ah, the need to be mindful of, and listen to our dreams, no matter where they may lead.

Our dreams should compel us, as they compelled Joseph, and many prophets before him, to follow God. To follow God, is to follow the reality that is Christ Jesus we are following, to Jerusalem, where death awaits. A death that is necessary, a death that leads to new life – for Jesus and for all of us if we agree to go.

All the accomplishment in the world won’t get us there. Just the donkey, just the dream.

The Donkey by G. K. Chesterton : The Poetry Foundation.

When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born.
With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil’s walking parody
On all four-footed things.
The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.
Fools! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.

Source: The Collected Poems of G. K. Chesterton (Dodd Mead & Company, 1927)

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3 Responses

  1. I have always liked donkeys, maybe because they look so peaceful and gentle. They also are very stubborn and hard to convince to walk when they don’t want to. So Mary’s donkey and Jesus’s donkey had to receive the grace to realize whom they were carrying to do it gracefully 🙂

    Thank you for the reflection and the poem I did not know.

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