March 16, 2016
Fecundity with Worms
Last weekend I was cleaning out some leaves that January winds had left in our back stairwell. Beneath and amidst the layers were worms and centipedes.
It amazed me to see vibrant life, already moving and multiplying, while Saint Louis still has an edge of cold, especially at night. Where did they come from these creatures? What instilled them to travel across the cement stairs and slabs to these rotting leaves? I thought, with a smile, of spring coming and bright flowers growing and the coplex intertwining of all living things.
Then I recalled those who are squeemish about “creepy-crawly things” and then my mind lept to a silly image in Peter Jackson’s movie, The Fellowship of the Ring. Early after Merry and Pippin have stumbled onto Frodo and Sam, they all hide under a huge tree’s tangled roots. An evil Black Rider pauses on the road above them. Jackson wanted to communicate the evil and unreasoned fear that radiated from the rider, so he showed all manner of earth creatures coming out of the ground and across the four humans (hobbits).
One could argue that these icons of good and fecund soil were trying to escape the Black Rider’s deathly presence. But I assume that Mr. Jackson just wanted to instill a feeling of fear in his audiance, and he used arthropods and annelids to do it. As a friend of mine says, “They have too many limbs or worse yet, none at all.” But I have always been one of those who find wonder in insects and such. It is reported that the biologist J. Haldane was once asked what he had found of the mind of God after studying creation for so many years. He responded, “An inordinate fondness for beetles.” Haldane also conjectured that God loved stars too, because there were more of those than beetles, as far as we guess. But beetles and centipedes and worms are far more complicated, more caught up with our own survival and wellness, than are stars.
So, even these fellow creatures reveal to me the texture of heaven, the Pure Land that is waking up in the early spring amidst the leaves of my back yard.