Dr. Arthur Chang, author of “The New Positive Spirituality: Finding Purpose and Happiness in Everyday Life,” defines positive spirituality as the practice of positively embodying God’s attributes of love and law and using them in our lives to bring our desires into physical reality.

Thursday, April 4, 2024



By Rev. Dr. Arthur Chang





When fishes flew and forests walked

   And figs grew upon thorn,

Some moment when the moon was blood

   Then surely I was born.


With monstrous head and sickening cry

   And ears like errant wings,

The devil’s walking parody

   On all four-footed things.


The tattered outlaw of the earth,

   Of ancient crooked will;

Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,

   I keep my secret still.


Fools! For I also had my hour;

   One far fierce hour and sweet:

There was a shout about my ears,

   And palms before my feet.


On Monday of Holy Week, I woke up thinking about a poem that had not crossed my mind since high school. That is a long time ago. It is shown above. It took some time to get past the title, to retrieve the poet’s name, to be able to recite the first verse. I even got into the second verse. So here it is!

The Gospel writer, Matthew, laid out the commencement of Holy Week as follows:

Jesus Comes to Jerusalem as King


As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”

This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:


           “Say to Daughter Zion,

‘See, your king comes to you,

gentle and riding on a donkey,

and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’ ” 


The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them.  They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,

“Hosanna to the Son of David!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”

The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.” (Matthew 21:1-11)


Poets and mystics are enablers, bringing to our attention vital reflections of stories, secular or sacred, that we would be inclined to miss. Poet G. K. Chesterton’s parody of the oft-disrespected donkey is an example. The poem features the donkey’s voice recognizing the priceless gift he has received, a new sense of self eternally synchronized with Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

Matthew’s Gospel tells of Jesus requesting the colt, a young undisciplined donkey.  Jesus riding the undisciplined colt, tells us the Christ presence within each of us must take charge of the body, the donkey, and ride it in the path toward achieving our highest spiritual objective.

The Hebrew prophet, Zachariah, wrote about the donkey as noted above. The king, he says, is gentle, riding a young donkey. While orthodox Christian teaching will say, as Matthew suggests, that Jesus was fulfilling the prophesy of Zachariah, religious scholars familiar with the Jewish  Midrash writing style will recognize it here.

Whether one does or does not recognize this style of sacred literature, all can appreciate the lesson of Holy Week that the humble donkey, one’s body, will serve best under the mastery of the Christ presence within each of us.