The Worm Thrower, revisited

I was reminded recently of an essay by Loren Eiseley titled “The Star Thrower.” Here’s my adaptation of an adaptation:

One morning, while walking on the beach, an old man saw a young man off in the distance, and wondered about the strange thing the young man off in the distance was doing. The young man kept bending down, picking something up, and throwing it into the ocean. He kept doing it over and over: bending down, picking up, throwing. As the old man walked closer, he saw that the beach was covered with starfish that had been washed onto the beach at high tide; they were stranded there when the tide went out. And he saw that the young man was picking up starfish and throwing them into the ocean.

When he got up close, the old man asked the young one what he was doing, and the young one replied, “saving starfish.”  And the old man said, “There are so many starfish on the beach, you can’t possibly save enough to make a difference.” And the star thrower bent down, picked up another starfish, threw it into the ocean, and replied, “It made a difference to that one.”

Sometimes, when rain soaks the soil, worms come up for air. Sometimes they crawl out onto parking lots or driveways and then can’t find their way back to the dirt. When I see stranded worms, I try to save them, at least some of them. Since I really don’t like touching worms, I take a leaf or a piece of paper and I gently nudge the worm so it scrunches up. Then I carefully slide the leaf or paper underneath it and gently toss the worm back onto the dirt.  Once, I saw a whole parking lot covered in worms. I tried to pick some that looked nice and healthy, so they would have a good chance of surviving. I like to think it makes a difference to the worms.

Last week there was a worm on the cement pad in front of the Fellowship building. It was large and intact, but dead. I found a flat stick and used it to gently place the worm in the dirt, so it could return to the earth as it decomposed.

Just call me “The Worm Thrower.”

In Faith and Hope,