Not even close

Posted by on 11.19.07 | 7 Comments
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It’s raining here in central Oregon. For those of you who are not familiar with the variety of ecozones in this amazing state, and envision pictures of drippy green, mossy temperate rain forests or craggy coastline when you think of Oregon you might be thinking, ‘that woman has an acute grasp of the obvious…’. But I’m here to tell you that in Bend, which is on the edge of the high desert, on the far side of the Cascade Range (which pushes all those wet clouds up and over and makes them dump their life-giving cargo), it doesn’t rain a lot here. It snows a lot in the Cascades, and Bend benefits from the snowfall (the skiing industry drives our local economy in part, and the reservoirs store the snowmelt for our use in the summers); but here it doesn’t usually rain…and rain. And then fog. And then rain.

So there’s big puddles all round town, as it’s been doing the precip thing for 2 days. And when I left the house this am, there was a big puddle by my car. Next to the puddle was an exhausted earthworm, who had obviously come up for air and was lying naked on the pavement. S/he had traveled a bit to get away from the water and seemed to be resting (or maybe dying, not sure). Anyway, I was in a hurry to get a friend to the airport. I looked at the earthworm and thought “I should put him somewhere where he can dig into the earth and get away from the damned pavement, shoes or parking cars. Or take him the extra 50 feet and put him in the compost bin where he’ll live long and prosper.” What I did was pick him up. I could feel his little wiggle (I like earthworms). I unceremoniously heaved him a few feet away into some attractive-enough dirt. I saw him shiver or convulse when he hit the dirt. I then jumped in my car and drove away.

But I couldn’t get over feeling his little wiggle in my hand. And the shiver when he landed on the well-intentioned dirt pile, even though it was soft from all the rain. And I thought about my actions. Why didn’t I take 30 more seconds to gently take him to the dirt and lay him down? Why didn’t I take him to the compost pile where I knew he’d have a good home? What could possibly be more important than those extra 30 seconds–to that that lovely little worm, who does his humble and vital part to make life possible on the planet?

And then, of course, I thought about all the maybe well-intentioned, but not very thoughtful actions I take each day. All the reactions instead of responses. I began to feel a tad nauseous. Why am I often so callous and ‘wound around my own axle’?

Granted, if we thought long and well about everything we do, we’d move like a monk…or…an earthworm. And how would we ever pass by anything that is suffering or asking for our help? Sheesh, already, all we’d ever do is move slowly, smile a lot, pray with each footstep or thought or word or mouthful.

This week, just one time daily, I am committing to feel through a consequences of some action or word–maybe even before I do them. I want to see if I can feel my way out to ’7 generations’ for a particular action. I plan to experience, around the Thanksgiving table, a sense of some of the many hands, hearts, actions, reactions and who might have been impacted, by the food we’re cooking and the wine we’re drinking and the Aretha or Garth that we’re dancing to on Pandora Radio while we do it. Simple prayer. Probably not so simple in the execution, or I’d already be all over it.

So, while I was writing this, 4 hours later, I went out to see if I could find the worm. He’s gone and there’s a little mound of crumbly earth next to where he landed (could the mound be castings?) that makes me suspect he found a way into the heart of that Mother of ours. Maybe he’s burrowing, as we speak, to China. Or, conversely, maybe a bird gobbled him up. Either way, I did not do my dead level best to care for what was in front of me. Not even close. What a turkey butt I am.

Happy Thanksgiving day to each of you–and I’ll write on Thanksgiving day about how I’m doing on the practice of committing, just for one moment each day, to show up for an interaction by feeling and thinking more deeply, more prayerfully than my usual surface knee-jerk response. We’ll take it one wiggle at a time.

Beth, VTH Host and Worm-Shotputter

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