I often feel like God teaches us great lessons through our critters. One of them is to be in the moment, which is inherently hard for me as my brain is constantly on the go (just ask Cowboy). And the second most frequently needed lesson around the farm is patience, as it just makes everything run more smoothly. Now my mama always said, “Never pray for patience, because you never know what you are going to get to teach you that one.”
However, God always finds a way to teach us whatever it is we need to be taught. Enter our dear donkeys, Mama Rose and her baby, Sweetie Pie. When they arrived four years ago, we had no idea what we were in for.
From the start, Sweetie Pie lived up to her name. That donkey thinks she is a dog. She loves people. Everyone who comes to the farm hugs on Sweetie Pie, and she inevitably ends up with her pic posted all over Facebook. She’s even been known to chase a car or two down the driveway. I often think she’d just climb right in and sit down with you if you let her. Mama Rose – not so much.
When our friends brought us the donkeys, they had let us know that Mama was stand-offish. However, they hadn’t had the pair long and hoped that with constant care she would follow Sweetie’s lead. Mama would take carrots out of your hand, but that was it. If you moved too fast or didn’t’ have food, forget it.
Well this fall with Sweetie Pie’s hoof injuries, we were forced to keep her up several times. And this pair can’t be separated, so where Sweetie goes, Mama goes. Every time we would enter the stall, Mama would run away as if we were out to eat her, although with the confines of the stall this was a humorous jaunt. We’d simply let her do her thing, running around like a crazy. And the usual refrain around feeding time was always, “Oh, Mama!”
One night at dusk, I was hanging out in the stall just enjoying the night air, and low and behold Mama Rose started to approach me. I stayed perfectly still and held out my hand. Could this be the moment? She started sniffing, no doubt hoping I had a carrot. My fingers tickled her nose, and she started trying to nibble my hand. Not unusual, but this is as far as it usually goes. Once she’s certain there are no goodies, she’s usually done with me.
But somehow that night was different. I kept playing with her and working my way up her nose. She took it. And when I’d take my hand away, she’d take one step closer. On my goodness, she actually wanted to be touched. I wanted to scream out with joy, but clearly that would have ended our encounter in two seconds flat.
I could see Cowboy watching and smiling in the distance, and I mouthed, “Look at me. I’m petting Mama Rose!!!”
After four years, I was finally touching Mama’s head for the first time. I was actually rubbing her fuzzy forehead! Honestly, I had long ago given up hope that Mama and I would be any more than feed buddies, but as I said, God has a way of teaching us things. There is always hope. Things that seem as if they will be that way forever can change.
This reminds me of one of my favorite Bible verses:
6) Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, and with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7)And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)
So we continue to learn our lessons from our four-legged friends. And I love this lesson. Give up the anxious, and bring on the grateful. Mama and I continue to work on our friendship daily. She loves her morning scratches.