The Dreaming Pig

Four pigs and a donkey on a farm

Once there was a pig. A very little pig. In fact, we’ll call her ‘Little Pig’. She was the runt of the litter. While her thirteen brothers and sisters greedily suckled their fill, she was more often than not pushed out, so she almost always went hungry. Even when she was weaned, they would snatch all the good food first, sometimes even from under her nose. She couldn’t join in their play, because they would be rough, mostly by accident, but sometimes deliberately. They also liked to tease her with horrible stories about being killed and eaten, and laugh when she ran crying into the corner of the farmyard.

That corner, behind the piles of straw, became her sanctuary, her safe place, where she could do what she did best – dream. She would look out through the slats in the wooden fence at the night sky and dream of a place where she would be safe, and fed, and loved, and certainly not eaten.

In fact this place took shape in her dreams as she slept. The dream was never very clear, but she would always be in a room that seemed familiar. It was sort of like her own pen, with straw on the floor, but there were other animals standing around. In the middle of the room there was a feed box surrounded by a soft glow. Although in the dream she didn’t know what was in the feed box, she knew for certain this was where she would find all that she needed. But as soon as she walked towards it, she would wake up.

Little Pig once made the mistake of telling one of her sisters about the dream, who, of course, thought it was hilarious, and told all the others. She was teased unmercifully for days, which drove her back to her sanctuary and to her dreaming.

And that was when she met a newcomer to the farm.

One day a donkey ambled over to the straw and, seeing Little Pig there said, “Hello.”

Being a friendly pig, she said, “Hello. You’re new here, aren’t you?”

“Yes.” said the donkey. “I came here just last night.”

“Did you travel far to get here?” Little Pig had heard stories about places far away, and often in her dreaming wondered if they could be better than this farmyard.

“I came from Bethlehem, over there, to the west.” said the donkey, pointing his chin vaguelyin that direction. “It’s nice there.”

“Why is it nice? Is it nicer than here?”

The donkey looked at her with understanding eyes, and said gently, “Well, for one thing, you would never get eaten there.”

‘A place where I would be safe!’ thought Little Pig. But before she could get really excited, the donkey said, “But it’s in Jewish territory. They wouldn’t want you there. They don’t like pigs. They call them ‘unclean animals’.”

Little Pig didn’t quite understand this, but didn’t like to ask what it meant. It sounded bad, but not as bad as being eaten. The donkey didn’t say anything more about it, but she liked him, and from then on would often talk with him. She liked hearing the tales of his journeys, particularly to and from this Bethlehem place. She never tired of listening to him, and after a while felt that she knew every inch of the road, there and back.

Gradually a daring plan formed in her mind.

One night, as Little Pig looked out at the night sky she knew it was time for her to go. She squeezed out through a small gap in the wooden fence (one of the few advantages to being small) and set out to find this place the donkey had told her about.

The journey was long, and she travelled by night, by the light of a very bright star she had never noticed before, foraging for food along the way, and hiding by day to snatch some sleep. At last she came to the edge of a small town, and she was fairly sure was Bethlehem, judging by the landmarks the donkey had told her about. It had been a long, tiring day, and she was hungry and cold. All she wanted was food and shelter.

Suddenly she saw some humans up ahead, these humans who would no doubt think she was ‘unclean.’ Even though she didn’t know what that meant, she knew it wasn’t very friendly. She looked around, frantically trying to find some place to hide, and spotted a rickety shed with the door ajar, and pushed through it.

Much to her astonishment, Little Pig found herself in the very room she had dreamt of for so long. There were the animals – some in stalls, some standing around – and there, in the middle of the floor, lit by the soft glow a small lamp and that bright star shining through the window, stood the feedbox. As she looked around in wonder at the scene, she sensed something that she could not describe, but which we might recognise as ‘holy’. She hesitated, partly because she didn’t want to break this solemn feeling, and partly because she was afraid that it would end the way all her dreams ended, and simply vanish.

Her neediness won out.

Little Pig carefully moved forwards to the feedbox, which, to her relief, stayed firmly in her sights. She stood up on her hind legs to see what was there, and found herself gazing at a tiny human being, tucked in the straw. There was something helpless and vulnerable about that baby that Little Pig recognised all too well, because it was a mirror of herself, and all she wanted was to love and protect it in the way she had longed to be loved and protected.

But she hadn’t noticed the two humans sitting to the side in the shadows, until one of them, the man, scooped her up from the feedbox and carried her back to the corner. For a moment Little Pig was terribly afraid. She knew he wouldn’t eat her, but if she was ‘unclean,’ what would he do to her? But her fear was unfounded. The man sat down with her on his lap, and stroked her head, and talked softly to her. Then he reached into a bag by his side and offered her a piece of apple, which she gratefully took and ate.

Then, after her long, hard journey, she fell asleep.

All hunger satisfied.

All dreams fulfilled.

©Sr. Sandra Sears CSBC
17th December 2019

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