Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Donkey's Tale

Over on twitter some of us have been chatting about the anxieties and pressures that we put upon ourselves as we approach the reality of our calling to ordained ministry. I remembered how I'd had to bolt for the loo to be violently sick the first time I tried on a clerical shirt, while another friend approached her diaconal retreat in floods of tears, insistent that it had all been a terrible mistake......and another had run away during the retreat, in a desperate attempt to evade the inevitable.
And I remembered a rather wonderful book "The Donkey's Tale" by Margaret Gray...which seems to be out of print now...but which has helped me hugely along the way.
It's a picture book, with very limited text...but its gist is something like this.
"Once there was a very ordinary girl, who opened her door one day and found that all the poor and sad of the world were outside, waiting for her to help them. She felt, as you might imagine, helpless, inadequate, useless....but as she slumped in despair a donkey appeared and said
"hang on........let me tell you what happened to me."
And he recounted how once, long ago, he had been chosen by someone amazing.
"He was heavy, and the road was long, but he always gave the strength to get there..." and as he carried the man, not giving in to his normal impulses to be grumpy, stubborn, lazy......people saw a miracle happen..."something happening that was bigger than me."
"He doesn't need another genius - he needs a few donkeys who know they have to depend on his strength - not theirs
his wisdom - not theirs
his words - not theirs"
"So it doesn't matter that I feel useless" said the girl
"He will show me what to do and give me the strength to do it"
"Yes" said the donkey..." and do remember to look at yourself from time to time and have a good laugh"

Isn't it wonderful? Can't you see how it makes all the difference to how you survive, or not, in this mad and wonderful and impossible calling to serve as priests in the Church of God?
I'm so thankful for that donkey :)

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