The Donkey in the Well
I had had a bad day in school. I wasn't very old and I
had a last name of Batt. That can be a tough combination.
One of the other kids had made fun of my last name. I tried
not to let it bother me. But it did.
I tried to ignore my tormentor, but soon a bunch of other
kids joined in making fun of my last name. Now I have always
been proud of my last name, but for just that one day, I
wished my last name were Smith or Jones. I became angry and
lashed out verbally. They laughed at me, which made the hurt
Friday came and school ended for the week. I moped around on
Saturday. I just couldn't get the other kids' taunts out of
my head. I didn't tell my parents. It didn't seem like
something worth troubling them with.
In Sunday School, I just wasn't my normal self. I had no
answers in class, just like I had no answers for my problem.
I had a wonderful Sunday School teacher, but I was feeling
down-way down. My teacher must have told my minister about
my glum behavior, because he asked me what was wrong with
me. You have to tell the truth to a man of the cloth and I
told him what was troubling me.
He nodded in that way that good listeners do, smiled and
asked me to come to his office. I did as I was asked. He had
me sit down and said he had a story to tell me.
I hoped it would be a good one about kids with big mouths
receiving terrible punishments.
He told me the story about a man who had a donkey. The man
didn't have much, but he had a donkey. One day, the donkey
fell into an old abandoned well on the farm. The donkey,
being a donkey, kicked and kicked. When that didn't seem to
help, it brayed and brayed. It kicked up a fuss and made a
terrible commotion, but no one came to help it.
The donkey was exhausted and resting wearily against the
side of the well, when its owner first noticed it was
missing. The owner became concerned as to the whereabouts of
his donkey. He searched everywhere he could think of. He
could not find his donkey. He went to the neighbors and
enlisted their help in the search. They searched everywhere.
No luck. The donkey appeared to be missing for good.
The neighbors gathered in the man's farmyard and tried to
console him. It was then that one of the men looked down
into the old, abandoned well and saw the missing donkey. The
men spent the rest of the day and most of the night trying
to get a rope around the donkey stuck at the bottom of the
deep well. They were unable to accomplish such a feat. They
felt defeated. The owner of the donkey felt terrible.
They assembled for a meeting. The wisest among them
suggested that they fill the abandoned well in with dirt. It
was true this would bury the unfortunate donkey, but it
would prevent the same tragedy from befalling others-perhaps
one of their children. It was agreed that this would be the
plan they would follow.
The men took turns throwing a shovel full of dirt into the
The owner felt terrible for the donkey. He felt terrible for
himself and his loss. He didn't have much, but he always had
a donkey. Now he wouldn't even have that.
Once the first shovel of dirt hit the donkey, the animal
found renewed energy. It brayed even louder than he had
before. The men turned their eyes from one another and
pretended not to hear the donkey's pleadings. As more and
more dirt fell into the hole, the donkey began to understand
the hopelessness of its situation. It began to give up.
Then it happened. The donkey realized that the dirt was a
gift. With each scoop of dirt that fell into the well, the
donkey shook off any that landed on it and then took a step
up onto the top of the pile of dirt forming at the bottom of
the well. More dirt, another shake and another step up.
The men kept shoveling; certain that they were burying the
poor donkey. After much shoveling, the men were quite
surprised to see the donkey, looking right straight at them.
It was standing on top of all that dirt that had been
dropped on it.
To my surprise, I was able to understand a grown-up's story
without any need for explanation.
I went to school on Monday with a completed different
attitude. I endured the name calling for a short time. I
endured it with a smile as I thought about that donkey. The
kids gave up the name-calling when they realized that it
didn't bother me. The more dirt they threw, the taller I
Copyright Al Batt 1995