Least important of all animals, I am a beast
of burden. I can carry heavy loads
and I am more patient than a camel,
gentler of nature, though occasionally stubborn.
I am not considered particularly intelligent,
and my name is used as an insult.
"He's an ass," someone will say with great contempt.
But when I see an angel in my path
I recognize a messenger of God.
"Stop!" the angel said to me, and I stopped,
obeying God, rather than curse my master, Balaam,
who hit me and cursed me and did not see
the angel's brilliance barring our way.
Later, I took the path to Bethlehem
bearing God's bearer on my weary back,
and stood beside her in the stable,
sharing her pain, her loneliness, and then her joy.
I carried on my back the Lord himself,
riding, triumphant, into Jerusalem,
and all the crowd cried, Hosannah! and blessing!
But the blessing turned into a curse,
Hosanna into Crucify him! Crucify him!
Least important of all animals, beast of burden,
my heaviest burden is to turn the curse into a blessing,
to see an angel in my path
and to bear forever the blessing of my Lord.
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