The Woman and the Donkey: A Meditation

Palm Sunday, Year B   April 9, 2006

Susan Langle

St. John the Baptist, Sanbornville

The Woman and the Donkey: A Meditation

I was there that day. I recognize your faces. Weren’t you there too? It was warm. The crowds were thick and full of excited energy – like those days we wait in line to get into the stadium, those times we are excited, carrying the banners, having come a long way to see the game. High spirits carried us along – crazy energy, charged with anticipation and danger. Violence a current just under the surface.

That day the roads were full of people going to the city for the festival. Whole villages on parade. The babes were crying. Dogs barking. Little boys running around, through branches into the street.

Then along came this little group. A few rough looking fellows walking along, and between this small, dark man on a donkey. Everyone had heard about him – this healer, this guy from the backwaters would could throw scripture in the faces of the authorities who think THEY are so much holier than us. We’d heard about how he hangs out with scum – addicts and homeless drunks, pimps and prostitutes. He gets himself invited to the fanciest parties! Everybody wants a chance to be near him, to feed off his power.

And there he was, right in front of us. A cheer went up. ‘God Save the King! God save the King!’ Of course he didn’t look like any king we had heard of – no soldiers, no trumpets, no flags, no body guards. On a donkey no less – a donkey was his War Horse. A beast of burden carrying him right into the hands of the Empire. Surrounded by people but alone, unprotected. As they plodded along he looked at me, so serious, so sad. A tear ran down his cheek. He knew something awful was about to happen. I could feel it too. Couldn’t you?

Why didn’t we stop it? Why do we always stand by and watch as the children are shoved into ovens and go up in smoke? Watch from afar as men are murdered, women raped and whole villages burnt to the ground? Stand and watch our leaders sacrifice our sons and daughters on the altar of security?

He looked at us that day and asked us with those sad eyes – when are we going to get off the side lines and resist those who try to pick us off a few at a time, those who try to convince us that our silence will save us, those who assure us that crushing the others is necessary for our survival?

Looking into his eyes I wonder – is surrender to the impossible possibility, surrender to the undefended power of Holy Love - is that the only thing that can save us?

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