Saturday, January 28, 2012

even the donkey deserves an audience.

buenas tardes,

Today I just want to leave you with a quick sound bite of Ethiopian history that I learned today and found rather poignant and inspiring.

(Quick context: today we flew back from Lalibela, but since there was no direct flight to Bahir Dar, we flew to Gondar and made the two hour drive back from there. The arrangement worked perfectly because Gondar holds another of Ethiopian’s most incredible sights. We stopped briefly for Prof. Bascom to give us a quick tour of the castle complex where Ethiopian kings and queens lived in the 15th – 18th centuries.)

King Johannes (16th century) was a very good king – he was the people’s king. The story goes that in King Johannes’ castle, there was a bell that problem-stricken peasants could come ring, and he would give them an audience. One day, the bell rang and instead of any human waiting there, there was a donkey standing in front of the door who was ridden with saddle sores from being worked so hard. Someone had brought this poor sick donkey hoping that the compassionate king might help. When his attendants told the king of the strange guest that they found, he told them not to shoo it away, but rather to bring it in to him, for he insisted that in his kingdom, even the donkey deserves an audience. And so King Johannes went on to care of all the residents of his kingdom – from the downtrodden peasants to their lowly beasts of burden – for all of the rest of his reign.

…What a king! The story speaks for itself, but I must just say that this sounds to me a lot like the King of Kings, who makes room for the sparrows by his altar. (Psalm 84 ) :)



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