We were talking about talking animals, the type that talk in Narnia. To think that a horse or a fawn or a messianic lion for that matter would not only have a mind of its own, but actually express it in one way or another is something that speaks to the child in us, or, at least, if we don’t have much of anything childlike left inside of us, then it speaks to the children who are around us.
Specifically, we were talking about the young donkey that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on. The donkey that was never ridden before. Not the white stallion carrying the king in heavy armour and a blazing sword, but the young donkey carrying the king with the dusty sandals and the gentle voice.
If you were that donkey and you could talk, what would you say? That was the question. It got the kids going, as you might expect. But really, what would you say? Now is your chance.
Would you ask if it’s true, that story of Balaam’s donkey, the one who talked long ago so stunningly clear, so outrageously strong to try to set his obtuse master straight, that we remember it even all these centuries later? And what if, while you carrying him on your back, the Master, the first man you actually carried anywhere on your young back, what if he talked back to you?
You thought you were imagining it because the crowd was so loud and you had to focus and be careful not to trip, with all the palm branches scattered on the road ahead, placed by the children who were not always careful where they ran. But, no, you were not imagining it.
‘Yes, little donkey. It’s true. It’s very true,’ is what he said to you. ‘I’m so glad that you asked. Thank you also for making yourself available to me. This is all I ask of anyone, really. And let me add, while you will likely never forget this ride, neither will I. And one day, one day little donkey, we will be together for even longer, in another place where all the animals talk. This, after all, is how it was meant to be from the beginning.’
Then when he dismounted and the load was finally light, you felt strangely sad, and for some reason like the load was heavier that it had been when he was on your back. And you wanted him to come back, just to hear that voice again. And to ask him another question.