I walked slow paths around my backyard patio as I prayed the rosary. A beautiful warm-cool evening, the sun was setting and the songs of birds filled the air. Nearing the last decade I caught notice of movement near my feet. It was a rather large earthworm (about 8″ long) who had decided to come out of the ground.
With its front it searched ahead, keeping its tail-end secure on the earth from whence it was coming. It must have liked what its front-part found and so it inched its whole body forward.
I thought for sure it would head towards the main yard – it was near the very edge of the patio after all. It had about 4 inches to travel until it achieved free-earth freedom. But instead it changed directions and bee-lined it (well, worm-lined it -which is a haphazard approach to getting to wherever it is you are going) into the depths of the patio stones.
In curiosity I stood and stared and pondered what it would do. Its front part searched and its back part stayed still until the info of “all clear” came signaling for the back part to come along too. Over and over again across the small stones it traveled.
Its body was on dry, dry hard ground. Its once moist body like a lint roller picked up small dirt and rocks as it inched along. Within minutes its vigorous “I got this” seemed to turn into trepidation. “Surely there is earth right over there” it seemed to say to itself as it mustered up the courage to swingingly inch forward again. Nope. No such luck.
The worm slowed. It stumbled on a small patch of weeds which had poked thru between two stones. I thought “Don’t get too excited this isn’t your freedom. But what do I know — maybe this is all you need?” And it did seem to pause a little extra in the refreshing greens. But then it was off again, blocking the paths of all-business-ants who either paused and waited for it to pass or sought out a way around its slow-moving body.
The poor worm. All covered in stuck-on dirt. (Was it used to it? It does tunnel thru the ground so maybe this is no different than usual?) Its travels slowed. It seemed to be giving up. And yet it kept going — it had to, didn’t it? The earthworm seemed to know, “I just have to keep going. It’s not going so well right now, but maybe in the next go it will get better.” Over and over mustering up that faith that surely its grassy salvation lie ahead. “OK, no pay dirt this time. But maybe next time.”
I never did see just how long that worm would give an effort. Because I decided I needed to rescue it from what surely was a very trying situation. (1) It’s body was covered in so much stuck-on things; it seemed uncomfortable. (2) It was slowing down; it seemed sad. (3) I knew that the robins are very big fans of grazing the bugs and worms along this patio and their dinner time was approaching – if I leave and wormy is still lying out in the open then surely he will be eaten as quickly as 1-2-3. I cannot have wormy be eaten after all this!
I picked up a stick, wiggled it under its body and scooped. It did not fight; no squirming like most worms do when you try to pick them up. Its gumption worn out from its futile journey it seemed to have no will to fight.
I put it into the grass. It slowly slinked the front half of its body downwards. But the other half just sat on the top pieces of grass where it had landed as I put it down. “Come on wormy! Just slink in there just a smidge and hide yourself!” I told it unsuccessfully.
A few minutes later I went inside. I hope that wormy recovered and dug into the dirt before the robins came. I hope, but I don’t know. But at least I did what I could and gave wormy a chance.
I was trying to think if there was a message for me in all of this — like am I like the worm writhing on my path and called to continue on until salvation comes? So just hang in there and do what I can — eventually I will be saved (whether in this life or the next). It could be. Or maybe I’m called to see that even a seemingly hopeless situation is never actually hopeless, for there are things out there that I cannot see –and the good may come to save me (and if not and I experience a robin’s swoop at least I have ultimate salvation in Jesus). Or maybe it’s just I was called to spend a few moments watching a worm and it means nothing beyond watching God’s creation before me and pondering it.
I don’t feel called to it being any particular message and so I think I was just meant to watch and ponder -and then give wormy a second chance – because we all need second chances, don’t we?