At the start of October, we took a drive to the village of McGregor, which is the home of the Eseltjiesrus Donkey Sanctuary.
Having attended last year’s St Francis Day and Remembrance Ceremony at the sanctuary (which I wrote about here), we were really looking forward to this year’s event – and to seeing our beloved Donkey again.
Perhaps you remember our first visit to the sanctuary in July last year, when we adopted a long-eared, furry four-legged young donkey?
“Eseltjiesrus Donkey Sanctuary provides a permanent refuge for abused, neglected and elderly donkeys. Here they are given the opportunity to live out their lives with respect and dignity, surrounded by their own kind, in a protective and natural environment.
One of the ways you can help is to adopt a donkey for a year to help towards the costs of our work. You choose the amount you wish to give to your donkey.” (http://www.donkeysanctuary.co.za/)
It was a rather wet morning, as we drove through spitting rain all the way from Cape Town to Robertson. It only cleared up just outside McGregor. This was fortunate, as it would have been rather uncomfortable to sit outside in the wet – the ceremony was held outside, as there wasn’t nearly enough room inside the restaurant. Clearly, the weather gods – having seen how many people had arrived despite the wet weather to celebrate the glory of creation and to honour the memories of loved companion animals – intervened just in time.
Everyone took their seats on the chairs that had been set out in neat rows in front of the Eseltjiesrus Country Kitchen, run by Debbie and Jimmy. One after the other, people got up to read some wise words, or to say a prayer, or to inspire us in some gentle way.
Clearly, everyone who attended this event had been touched by the donkeys in some way, or had said goodbye to a much-loved companion animal, and it shone through in all their contributions to the ceremony.
It was heartwarming, moving and so peaceful.
We even received a blessing from a cheerfully smiling Brother Richard, who strode around the audience, flicking sprinkles of water at everyone! The donkeys didn’t seem to mind all this hustle-and-bustle – I like to think that they knew it was their special day.
Once the service had ended, we all went for a long, gentle, meditative walk around the vineyards, taking the time to read the inspiring and thought-provoking words of wisdom mounted against fence posts and tree-trunks.
And afterwards, we were lucky to get a short guided tour with Robyn, who showed us around the donkeys and introduced us to the newcomers. She was amazing – she really seemed to know all the donkeys, not just their names, but their personalities and their personal histories and individual idiosyncrasies too!
Incidentally, adoption makes an ideal anniversary, birthday, special occasion or Christmas present. Instead of buying more stuff for your loved ones for Christmas, why don’t you “gift” them a donkey instead?
And now, sit back, and enjoy the slideshow. 🙂