Advent 14: Donkey…

There ain’t much that is more ‘advent’ than a donkey, right?

Time for some complex donkey theology.

The poem below centres around a very strange story from the ancient scriptures in which a donkey mocks a poet called Balaam in plain speech. Balaam then flogs the donkey until God intervenes and gives him a right talking to. You can read it in all its wierdness here.

A donkey-flogging poet who is so caught up in his own pomposity and pontification that he fails to see an Angel standing in front of him? Now why would I take this one so personally?

Perhaps what we learn here is that what we think we know, particularly about things of the spirit, we know at best in part. We might be totally wrong. We probably are. Sometimes it takes a donkey to point out the blindingly obvious.

There is truth in this that is important I think. Doubt is a holy discipline as much as faith ever was, otherwise however can our understandings change and evolve? (I wrote this piece ten years ago during a period of doubt trying to describe this same kind of thinking.)

Anyway, back to the donkey;


Baalam’s Ass

Numbers 22:21-38


“Look! It’s there!

Can’t you see it?

Wings like thunderclouds

Eyes like searchlights

Robes spun from the last rays of the summer sun

It is either a fairy pumped up on steroids

Or a feckin’ Angel –

Not an allegorical one either.”


So it was that the living God

Sent a mighty Angel

To play hide and seek with a Donkey

So that a pagan sorcerer

Could speak out holy words

To confound all Israel.

And a whole sky-choir

Of heavenly creatures


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