His steps were slow, the path rugged, and though his master’s hand was gentle, he sensed an urgency in the man’s voice. Time was running out, this he knew. He would run if he could, but the burden upon his back was heavy, and fragile. One cautious step followed another. Each step he knew caused her pain, yet she never uttered a protest. Her voice and touch encouraged him, as one mile turned into another, one day into the next.
The hour was late when the three travelers finally walked the narrow roads of the tiny town. Relief coursed through each of them. She would finally be able to rest. But relief was fleeting. Her time had in deed come, pain gripped her body, and for the first time she cried out.
His concern escalated to dread, as his master ran from one door to the next, knocking and pleading; a room, a bed, a mat in the corner was all they asked. But time after time the answer was no. The tiny town was full. There were no more rooms. He knew the time was near. Her time had come; still his master pleaded. Finally, one man took pity. “No,” he said, “I have no room to offer, all I have is a small stable.”
A new sound was heard above the rustling of the animals. The small donkey stood slowly to his feet, and one step at a time, ever so slowly, walked to his master’s side. The cry of newborn life wafted through the stable. All the animals rose to their feet, and step by step, ever so slowly, walked to the manger to gaze upon the baby within. Each and every animal, including the donkey so young, bent their knees and bowed their heads; for they knew they were in the presence of The King.
The donkey lay upon a soft bed of straw, as the swaddled King slept peacefully in the manger. The soft stirrings of stabled animals comforted his weary bones. His eyes were heavy, as he pondered all that had brought him to this place, and time. It would later be told, that the shepherds were among the first to see the newborn King, but the young donkey knew the truth. For the eyes of those who could never speak the story, the gentle animals within the stable, were the first to see the King and hear his voice. With a contented sigh, the donkey fell fast asleep.
Merry Christmas to all.
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