When I walked up to see the donkeys this morning, they were standing quietly in their paddocks and from a distance almost melding into the grey light. There was a heaviness in the air. Of course, March weather conditions often lean towards the drab but I think that the solemnity of the scene was coloured also by the fact that this occurred on the Saturday of Easter weekend.
For those of us familiar with Christian traditions, Easter time is a period of dramatic, conflicting emotions. The celebration that marks Easter morning is preceded by the abstinence of the Lenten period, the troubling logic of Christ’s trial, the horror of the Crucifixion, the deep mourning of its aftermath: all of it can make one feel overwhelmed. For me, the only bright moment in those dark days leading up to the Resurrection occurs when Christ enters Jerusalem riding on the back of a donkey. This extra-ordinary man, whose message had inspired thousands by that point, chose to underline his humility by selecting this quiet, unassuming creature to carry him towards his final trial.
The crowds could not know the future, though, and they welcomed the preacher with such enthusiasm that they placed palm branches on the ground. This turned the quiet entrance into a royal procession. When I close my eyes I can hear the murmuring voices of the people in concert with the rustle of the branches as the donkey picks its way through the slender leaves. It is a powerful, encouraging image. At a pivotal moment in that timeless story the donkey, too often a symbol of derision and inelegance, is paired with man so great that for millions of people around the globe, he would return to save the world. Hallelujah.
Sandra Pady, Founder