Notes from Jan

Odds and Ends

June 9, 2023

Another catalog showed up in my mailbox. Odd, since I don’t do much shopping on-line and I have never heard of RAILS. One quick glance and I knew it wasn’t for me. The models needed some “meat on their bones” as those from my sturdy Scandinavian stock used to say. It reminded me of when I was a kid and felt “skinny as a rail.” Alas, in my early teens, desperate for a shape, other than a stick, I prayed to be fatter. Well, over time my prayers were answered. I guess I should have been more specific.

Well, another odd thing happened two mornings ago. A small bird perched on my deck railing. That’s usual. But the odd part came after I slid open the screen door. It didn’t fly away but cocked its tiny head and watched me. So I decided to sing to this curious creature. And so I chirped, “All creatures of our God and King, Lift up your voice and with us sing Alleluia, Alleluia.” I don’t know what it did for the bird, or my neighbors. But I enjoyed slowing down, and paying attention to one of God’s calling cards. And who knows, maybe for one small moment, heaven and nature sang along and God smiled.

And speaking of heaven and nature coming together, that’s how I felt when my friend, Martha, told me about Minis with a Mission. It’s a unique place in Ipswich that rescues mini- donkeys and horses. Then these animals become ministers of healing for children and adults who suffer from care-giving fatigue, developmental challenges or PTSD.

So, Monday afternoon, Lily, Poco and I went to meet some Minis. At Martha’s suggestion, I brought my beach chair. This was my usual nap time. Laurie, one of the volunteers welcomed us. She gave combs and brushes to the Grands and they began tending the donkeys.

For some reason, three of the donkeys took a liking to me. Maybe it was because I was seated closer to their height. Emma, the mama, and Kitty, her daughter, kept putting their faces close to mine. Flossy, the one with attitude, tried sitting in my lap. When that didn’t work, Flossy backed up into my face. You get the picture. According to Laurie, she loves to have her rear end scratched.

Laurie was surprised at Emma and Kitty’s comfort with me. Both are usually shy. I wondered if it was the deodorant. It keeps flies off me, maybe off them, too. Or it could be the perfume I was wearing. It’s called Blue Grass. Maybe the scent transported them back to Kentucky. I don’t know about them but I felt calmed as they nuzzled me. I thanked them for their good work as healers.

One could do worse than spend time with some donkeys, bearers of burdens and the markings of the cross on their backs. I wonder if that genetic branding appeared before or after Jesus rode on the back of one into the city where folks would crucify him? Odd, I never noticed those stripes before Laurie pointed them out.

And she told me donkeys aren’t stubborn, as some folks think. They’re cautious. So if a donkey doesn’t get up and go when prodded, it’s because they sense something’s amiss. So they’ll wait until they think it’s safe to proceed. Remember the story of Balaam’s ass in Numbers 22? Check it out in the Bible. If a horse gets spooked, it’ll run off. A donkey stands still. Brave little braying beast.

Well, I feel like singing,” JOY to the world, the Lord is come…Let every heart prepare him room and heaven and nature sing!” And the next time somebody calls me a jackass, I think I’ll smile and say, “Thank you.” It won’t be the oddest thing I’ve ever said or done.

Did I hear an amen?

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  • Reply shelly moran June 9, 2023 at 8:30 pm

    A loud resounding AMEN! What a hoot,,,, Thanks for bringing sunshine on a cloudy day!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 10, 2023 at 8:02 am

      I laughed, too, dear Shelly. So grateful to be alive to experience something fresh, like making new friends. This time they had four legs and brayed, Next time, maybe I’ll tell them about Pooh, Piglet and Eeyore, but only if I can keep Flossy out of my lap.

  • Reply Kris June 10, 2023 at 8:08 am

    Thank you! I was waiting for this post about Mimi’ And gave me some insight into stubbornness vs cautiousness – hmm

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 10, 2023 at 8:32 am

      Me,too, thoughtful and caring Kris. Love having you nearby. Thank you for your work as a healer.

  • Reply David Smith June 10, 2023 at 12:30 pm

    …All things bright and beautiful,
    all creatures great and small…

    Thnx for another smile, Jan!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 11, 2023 at 3:43 pm

      And thank you, Smitti, for mentioning another beautiful song and PBS show. I can hardly wait for another season in
      the countryside with all God’s creatures, “great and small.” Meanwhile, I’m loving the beauty of this day “which the Lord hath made.” And so grateful for you, David, and other Gordon alums who give my heart a lift whenever you show up.

  • Reply Jeri June 10, 2023 at 1:45 pm

    Haha! I ALWAYS learn something new when I read your posts, Jan. Thanks for the cheer this day!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 11, 2023 at 3:47 pm

      Happy to cheer you on, dear Jeri. We all can use a laugh now and then to lighten the load. As for learning something new, it was news to me that donkeys aren’t stubborn. They do have the label of being sure-footed, but I like thinking of them pausing just to be sure, for their sake and mine, before clip-clopping down a steep mountain trail.

  • Reply Maggie Rowe June 13, 2023 at 6:05 pm

    Amen, Jan. I prayed the same prayer when I was a young teen and skinny as a rail with legs like toothpicks. The only thing that was plump was my upper arms, which are now my worst feature which is saying something. Ah the prayers of youth! Love your writing, as always.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 14, 2023 at 9:29 am

      I’ve been grateful, more than once, God didn’t answer some of my prayers. Always good to hear from you, dear Maggie. I decided long ago to enjoy the words from one of my Grands. “I like sitting on your lap and snuggling, Momo. You’re squishy.”

  • Reply Alyssa Arnold June 16, 2023 at 9:43 am

    This made me laugh, thanks for your story!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 17, 2023 at 9:08 am

      Well, dear Alyssa, then that makes me happy! Laughter’s good for body, mind and spirit.
      And, as you know so well, so is dancing, which you’re very good at doing.

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