This morning as I walked home with an earth worm cupped in my palm, I thought of the first time I did this and the story below that resulted. I left my friend in my yard then found the story. It bears retelling as I remember the beauty in its message today and many yesterday's ago. - Dawn
During yesterday's walk, I came across five little earth worms. All in close proximity to one another, they lay dry and dead on the sidewalk. What caused this exodus from the rich, dark earth they call home? Did a chemical sprayed on the nearby lawn, the roof to their world, prompt this evacuation or had they been lured, not by a neighbor's greener grass, but by the warmth of the sidewalk after the sudden drop in temperature this week.
I held each one then placed it in the grass, actually down into the grass in the dirt then covered them with leaves. I thought of a phrase I had first heard Jean Houston reference "to see the all in the small" and walked on.
A couple of blocks further down the busy street, I came upon another worm.
Were the worms presenting themselves, as a high protein offering, to the birds for some animalian holy day of which I'm unaware?
Cupped in my hand, I held the worm. It began to move. To me, this presented a problem. What was the right thing to do? Should I place him back into the grass where the chances of living seemed slim at least in this area or leave him on the sidewalk to his own devices? What felt most like love was to relocate him to my yard where he could crawl among the chemically-free grown ferns and determine whether to live or die.
I, a grown and graying woman, walked down Natchez Trace with a worm cupped in my hand nestled alongside a golden ginkgo leaf I had picked up earlier. I walked and wondered: What if this little earth worm is the heart of the world? (I've quit asking where these questions come from and instead just go with them.)
If not the heart of the world, at least a part of the world. This is when I noticed a tiny bit of blood on my palm coming from the earth worm. Maybe it is the heart of the world or the heart of the earth. Both are bleeding, yet like the worm are still very much alive.
The heart needs us as tenders of the heart to hold it each in our own way. It asks to be held and considered by people in places of prominence as they make decisions as well as held by people like myself walking the world's sidewalks loving an earthworm and all it represents.
Suddenly I panicked. If I'm holding the heart of the world or a piece of it, I do not want it to die. I picked up my pace, like a human ambulance, trying to get the little worm to my fern recovery room. I then realized in my rush that I was missing a significant part of what I was being offered.
I slowed down. The little worm was offering itself and its love to me. How often do I give love while missing the experience of receiving? The Earth Worm says: Don't rush. Hold me. Listen. As you share with me, let me share with you.
It has forgiven me for its many kin whose lives I took while fishing as a kid in country creeks. Furthermore as we walked, it taught me about me and who I am. I am love, care and compassion. I have been offered this lesson by animals before but never by an earthworm.
Arriving home, I walk into my backyard with a spirit of reverence, a sense of the sacred. I knelt among the ferns and opened the door of my palm as a little brown line of life crawled home.
This is grace. I have arrived home changed knowing the Divine palm that has held me safely with familiarity is opening. Some days I fly. Many days I crawl. What matters most is I, like the earthworm, am coming home.
-Dawn , The Good News Muse, 11 March 2014
first posted Nov. 2009
first posted Nov. 2009