Your Burdens Will Light

Lois Cunningham

The first day the little donkey was old enough to go out to the pasture with all the other new donkey colts, he knew he was different. There was his color. He was the only white donkey in the pasture. All the other donkeys were gray or brown. They all had a darker line from their neck to their tail, with another line across their shoulders to form a cross. The cross on his back was much darker against his white coat.

When they played, the others ran and kicked at each other, braying loud, happy “hee haws,” each one trying to be the loudest. The little white colt had a much softer “hee haw,” and although he could run very fast, he didn’t like to kick at his friends.

Spring, summer and autumn passed. The little colts grew bigger and stronger. When winter ended, their time to run and play in the pasture was over. Their owner took them to the market in the town square where men examined each newly grownup colt. They felt their muscles, checked their teeth and listened to their “hee haws.” The loudest ones were sold first.

Soon all had new owners except the white colt. Smallest of the bunch and with a softer “hee haw,” he wasn’t sold. His owner took him home and put him in the pen with his mother. She looked at him with his head low and his ears drooping. No one had wanted him. “Never mind,” she told him, “there will be something just right for you someday.”

From time to time, the white colt saw his former playmates go by. They were loaded with big sacks of grain, taking them to the market, or being ridden by their new owners. Some owners were so fat, the poor donkeys’ backs were swayed. The owners carried whips to make their donkeys trot faster. Now the “hee haws” sounded like a sad “Hmm.”

The white donkey thought, “Maybe it was a good thing no one wanted to buy me. If anyone tries to sit on my back, I will buck him off.” He hopped and bucked around the pen to practice.

One day his owner led him and his mother to the street and tied them to a post. He gave them some grain to much on and went away. Soon two men came straight to the white colt and began to untie him. Some people standing nearby called, “Where are you taking that colt?” The men answered, “The Lord has need of him,” and they led him out to the countryside where several people were waiting.

They brushed the colt’s coat until it shone. Then one of the men threw his robe over the colt’s back! Nothing had ever been on his back. He stepped back, his skin twitching and quivering from the strange feeling. He wanted to buck!

A man walked toward him. “If he tries to sit on my back, watch out!” thought the colt, and he jerked his head back to show he was serious. The man placed his hand on the spot between the colt’s ears that he liked to have scratched and rubbed gently. The white colt stood very still. The man spoke to him in a voice so low only his donkey ears could hear. “Don’t be afraid. When you carry me, your burden will be light.” With that, the man sat on the colt’s back and there was no thought of bucking. He knew that man would never use a whip on him.

They started down the road leading to the city of Jerusalem. People along the way saw them coming and ran to tell others. By the time they arrived at the city gate, a big crowd was waiting. They threw their coats in his path and cut palm branches to lay down in front of him. Some of the crowd waved the branches right in his face, and everyone was shouting loudly, “Hosanna, hosanna to the King!” It was enough to make even a well-trained donkey want to run away, but the white cold kept walking along, careful not to stumble. The man on his back wasn’t even holding on. He had both hands out, touching the people as he passed by.

They reached the temple steps and the man dismounted. Again, he spoke in a low voice. “Thank you for being there when I needed you. You have made this day much easier.” Then he went up the steps to the temple doors, and two men returned the donkey to the small village where his owner lived. The white cold was content. He had been given a very special task. He had carried Jesus on his back, sitting on the mark of the cross, all the way to the temple steps in Jerusalem.

His owner kept the white colt. Who could sell such a special donkey? Because he was so gentle and never bucked, his owner’s young sons rode him. Since donkeys live a long time, he carried his owner’s grandsons when they were old enough.When anyone noticed the old white donkey with the dark cross on his back, they were told,  “This was the colt that Jesus rode to Jerusalem the Sunday before he died on the cross.” On hearing this, the old donkey would twitch his ears. He had a special secret. On the very next Sunday after the ride, just at sunrise, the man had appeared to him and again he heard that low voice, “Because you carried me, your burdens will always be light.”

And they were.

Author’s Bio

Lois Cunningham began attending Writers Bloc in 2006 at the invitation of her friend Alice McGinnis. She enjoyed the association with other writers so much that she became a regular member. Lois wrote several short stories for children and created artwork for some of them. Her memoirs include many stories about her childhood that she wants to leave for her family. Lois is also a talented artist, and as a member of the Indiana Artists Club, won several awards for her work at various shows in Indianapolis, Salem and Scottsburg. At the age of 93, Lois is currently the oldest member of Writers Bloc.


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