There is that which is inextricable about donkeys and Christmas.
Every year, when I see the hundreds and hundreds of visitors who come to each of the Sanctuary’s special December Open Days, I contemplate the images that have cemented this wonderful association. The first one that comes to mind is that of a pregnant woman sitting on a donkey being led by a man. They are walking alone in the crisp desert night underneath a canopy of stars towards a village which, we are told, they must reach before morning in order to be counted in a census. The journey is a long one and the only sounds are those of hooves and feet crunching in the sand as the little group moves along. It is a simple scene, one made memorable by the solitary dignity of the beings involved.
The lead up to the second image is equally modest. The woman, the man and the donkey have arrived at the end of their journey only to find that the village is packed with other travellers. The only shelter available requires that they bed down in a stable and this they must do since the birthing process is about to begin. When the baby is born, he is placed on a mattress of straw in a wooden manger that stands nearby. It is this image of the crèche, always with the donkey, a cow and a sheep at its side, that resonates with people throughout the world.
Simplicity, humility and dignity: these are the essence of the Christmas message, one whose most vivid representations place human beings securely in the peacefulness of the natural world.
Sandra Pady, Founder