I watched an earthworm work its way across the sidewalk in the rain one evening this week. He drew his body together, ring by muscular ring, until much of it was bunched in one, fat bulge with a bit of a tail sticking out. Then all that gathered energy propelled the front of him forward, the back following along almost as an afterthought.
It was raining. I was walking to my car. I was supposed to meet someone, but instead I stood there in the middle of campus, holding my umbrella, staring at the sidewalk, paying attention to each ring of his body as it contracted and expanded. I wondered whether he would make it, given the history of worms, rain, and sidewalks.
I heard someone coming and looked up, but the thought that she might step on the worm didn’t connect to speech quickly enough, and she did, never knowing it.
After she passed, I squatted down to take a look. The worm was mostly OK, with only a small, flattened segment at the back. The front started moving again, dragging the injured part.
He eventually made it into the dirt on the other side, and I stood for a few moments wondering what that had been all about. Though I had taken no action, had not changed the course of events in any discernible way, it felt as if I needed to be there.
Perhaps everything inherently needs to be admired and wondered at. Maybe we humans came into being so that dancers could exalt in the movement of the body, so entomologists could give their fascination to insects, so farmers and botanists could love plants.
We share this existence with so many other manifestations of God. We are as surely connected to the earthworms as we are to each other. Every part of creation, including the human ones, needs us to see its brilliance and beauty today. All of creation is luminous.
One thought on “Worm Watching”
In “God’s Ecstacy”, Beatrice Bruteau writes that the capacity to perceive the inherent value of another is the point at which finite human consciousness accesses the infinite. This perception, which Jim Finley refers to as “an event in mystical consciousness”, is not of course a valuation of the other in utilitarian terms. Rather, it is an altruistic or empathetic mode of consciousness, a perception of inherent and ultimate value of an other subject. As Bruteau writes, this perception, and the ultimate value that it perceives, runs all the way back – to the Ground of Being.