Legend of donkey carries special meaning
by Marguerite Cline
Columnist
March 29, 2013 12:00 AM | 1276 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Patsy Jordan grew up in the country. She and her husband, Franklin, better known as Bug, built their house on the same property near Ball Ground where her parents, Edna and the late Hugh Padgett, lived and farmed. Patsy laughingly says she was raised in a chicken house.

Bug is a country boy, too. Until he developed major health issues, he was a farmer. As is true of most Cherokee County farmers, he raised chickens and other things.

Bug is a quiet and humble person. He does not like being the center of attention but Patsy says he is her cheerleader.

She retired after teaching 25 years in Pickens County and 10 years in Cherokee. She did her student teaching at Canton Elementary with Theresa Stanfield.

As one of the newest members of the Cherokee County Board of Education, she is again actively involved in providing a quality education for our children.

While she was growing up, when her dad would plow his mule, Charlie, Patsy liked to ride on the mule’s back. Sometimes she would get so comfortable riding on Charlie’s back that she would fall asleep.

If not first, donkeys are high on the list of Patsy’s favorite animals.

At first she had three of them — Jenny, her mother and her sister. After selling the mother and sister, Jenny looked sad and lonely. Hence, Patsy bought another donkey, Cissy, at a petting farm in Dacula. Jenny and Cissy seem happy being together.

It was through Patsy that I learned about donkeys having a cross on their backs. She went back into her teacher role and described it to me. It was totally new information for me.

Like me, you probably have heard the legend of the dogwood most of your life. But like me, The legend of the donkey may be entirely new to you.

It is said that at the time of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, dogwood trees were the size of mighty oaks. The cross on which he died was made from the wood of a dogwood.

The tree was ashamed to be used for such a cruel purpose. In love and compassion Jesus declared that the dogwood would never again be used in that way.

Hence, all the giant dogwood trees died and the new trees that grew were small and twisted.

The blossoms on them grew in the form of a cross with two long and two short petals. The outer edge of each petal had a print of nails while the center of the blossoms became a reminder of the crown of thorns placed on the Head of Jesus.

It was earlier this week that I learned about the legend of the donkey. It was through a posting Patsy placed on Facebook.

Of course, I knew that Mary, the mother of Jesus, rode on a donkey to Bethlehem, the city where Jesus was born. I also knew that Jesus rode on a donkey into Jerusalem. But I did not know the legend of the donkey.

On Palm Sunday, Jesus was riding on the back of a donkey when he entered the city. During the time Jesus was living on earth, riding a donkey signified the rider came in peace.

According to the legend, the donkey knew and was sorrowful that Jesus would be crucified.

A beast of burden, the donkey wanted to carry the cross for him. The loyalty and love he had for Christ caused a shadow of the cross to fall on the donkey’s back. Since then donkeys have a cross on their back as a sign of the love of God.

The cross is formed by a stripe of darker hair down the lengthy of the back crossed by a shoulder stripe across the top at the withers. According to my dictionary, the withers are the ridge between the shoulder blades.

Some sources say that all donkeys have the cross but that it is more easily seen on smaller breeds.

Before I talked with Patsy about her donkeys, I thought of them as ornery and cantankerous critters loudly and obnoxiously braying, “Hee-haw.” Knowing people put donkeys in their pastures to protect their cows, sheep and goats from coyotes and wild dogs added to that belief.

However, Patsy Jordan talks about how sweet and loving donkeys are. Well aware of the role donkeys have played in the history of Christianity, she says being with her donkeys makes her feel special and closer to God.

The legend of the dogwood tree and the legend of the donkey are just that — legends. But what we Christians around the world celebrate on this Easter Sunday is very real. It is the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

“He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose.”

Marguerite Cline is the former mayor of Waleska.
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