Flash: The Homeless Donkey Who Taught Me About Life, Faith, And Second Chances, by Rachel Anne Ridge
This book is in the genre of books where a clueless and comically inept person, in a fit of temporary insanity and generosity of spirit, agrees to take care of a rescue animal and proves herself to be not particularly good at it, but comical enough about it to become a published author. Although the author includes plenty of biblical quotes and comments–and it should be noted that the Bible has a lot of good things to say about donkeys, some of which is included here–this book is more about the comic contrast between the author’s supposed growing spiritual insight and the fact that she is just simply not very good at taking care of a somewhat needy and lovesick rescue donkey whose general relaxed attitude leads him to be named Flash. The results are funny and occasionally involve the author in dramatic searches for the missing animal as well as lead her to reflect upon the emotional resonance between donkeys and peoples. In retrospect, looking at the author’s later work, it appears that the author herself has a lot of similarities to Saul in terms of her own spiritual journey.
This book is a bit more than 200 pages long. It begins with a foreword by Priscilla Shirer as well as a prologue. After that the author discusses Flash as an unexpected guest (1) and how it was that he was named in a fit of humorous irony (2). AFter that the author discusses the arctic blast of cold that the author had to deal with (3) as well as Flash’s efforts to run with the horses (4). Inevitably, this is followed by Flash’s successful attempt to romance a mare (5) as well as the author’s discussion of sure and steady trails (6) as well as the paternity of Flash’s mule child (7). The author discusses how she dealt with a drought (8) as well as how she managed her barn (9). The author then discusses how to deal with change (10) as well as the death of her beloved dog Beau (11) before finishing the main part of the book with a discussion of how she ended up getting involved in public speaking thanks to her famous donkey (12) and found an unlikely answer for her own questions to God (13). The book then concludes with lessons from Flash, a Q & A with the author, acknowledgements, discussion questions, and some information about the author.
Truth be told, it is easy to see why the author viewed Flash, for all of his quirks and foibles, as a good lesson for her. Rescue animals can often show the same sorts of damage that human beings have while encouraging us to be more compassion to them than we are to human beings from whom we expect more. Flash’s own quirks and the way that he manages to get himself into occasional trouble–including impregnating the mare of a neighboring landowner–are the source of much of this book’s humor. The fact that this alternatively humorous and poignant tale of a woman not doing a very good job taking care of an animal while her children grow up and while she struggles with life issues like a miscarriage after a car accident is told with a great deal of humility makes its occasional preachiness easier to take. When a writer frames herself as being incompetent at taking care of an animal, even one as lazy as Flash is, she limits the sort of seriousness that her advice and counsel can be taken with. Competence is required in order to have credibility as a guide, and this book has little competence but a great deal of gentle humor that can win over the reader to a great extent.