Donkeys are magic. Not just on Palm Sunday.

Were you ever told that hurt goes away if you say “donkey, donkey, donkey, donkey, donkey,…”?

It’s what we told our kids and it’s what they shared with their friends when they were small. Surprisingly, none of their friends were aware of this magic cure.

Believe it or not – it worked wonders for our kids. A cut on the finger? – “Donkey, donkey, donkey, donkey, donkey,…” And away the pain goes. A bump on the head? A stomach pain? A sore knee after a fall? – The “Donkey” did the trick.

Maybe Jesus knew about the magic donkeys can do when he sent a couple of his disciples to fetch him a donkey for his entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, the beginning of Easter Week, the beginning of the end. And then the new beginning.

The highlight of the past week was Pádraig getting his first vaccine against COVID-19. Nearly everybody around him had long been vaccinated because they were ‘frontline healthcare staff’. Those living in residential care homes had been vaccinated independent of their age. Now the Irish Health Services Executive, HSE, is working their way down the list by age.

Everybody we talked to, and we talked to many people, saw the issue of young, very vulnerable people, living at home, falling between the ‘cracks’ of this system.

Nobody was in a position to do anything. It seems that ‘systems’ cannot be adapted or changed or fixed by individuals applying common sense.

Martin Naughton

Until one person came up with what one of my heroes, Martin Naughton, once described to me as an “Irish solution to an Irish problem”.

Pádraig, like Martin did and many other members of Áiseanna Tacaíochta do, runs his own company to recruit and employ his carers. So he is a the “Manager of Service”, a frontline healthcare worker. Agreed, registered, called, vaccinated.

I am still wondering, why Germans will never come up with such a solution.

I am convinced Pádraig was repeating “Donkey, donkey, donkey, donkey, donkey,…” in his mind last Thursday when he got the vaccine. He made it very clear that while he was all for it, he did not like it and it did hurt. There is nobody I know who had more needle encounters than him. Hurt works by association. I hope that the donkey diversion did the trick.

It all happened during the week we had some great sunshine encouraging the cherry blossom in our garden to really show off against the blue sky. It looks that beautiful every year but for just a very short time. A week or two, maybe three. It’ll just take a night of strong winds to blow the blossoms out of the tree and to make room for the next cycle, green foliage.

In the meantime, we are enjoying this miracle of nature and absolute beauty.

Of course, not all that happened was beautiful. And while I agree with what Edith Eger wrote in her books, i.e. that we should not allow ourselves to remain prisoners of what circumstances or other people throw at us, this can be difficult in practice.

“Here you are! In the sacred present. I can’t heal you—or anyone—but I can celebrate your choice to dismantle the prison in your mind, brick by brick. You can’t change what happened, you can’t change what you did or what was done to you. But you can choose how you live now. My precious, you can choose to be free.” 

Maybe this is what repeating “donkey, donkey, donkey, donkey, donkey,…” does: taking the attention away from the hurt, setting you out on the way to dismantle fear, getting you out of that prison in your mind, and, ultimately, setting you free of what circumstances and others are trying to impose on you.

Jesus had a choice. He went for the donkey.