I’ve been reading a lot of Frank Herbert and shoveling a lot of manure these past couple days.
So, I’ve been thinking a lot about worms.
I’ve had a worm bin in my house for a year, and I’m proud to say, I admire them. A worm moves through the world one bite at a time. Every mouthful they take is one step forward, and every excrement is a recognizable unit of the recent past. For a worm, time is measured in well-flavored bite-sized ticks of the clock.
“That brain, alone, not loses hope, whose choice is
To stick in shallow trash forevermore,—
Which digs with eager hand for buried treasure,
And, when it finds a worm, rejoices!”
To keep worms is to become-with the worms. They cannot handle too much acidity - so I, too, cut down on acidic foods, so my scrap food and orange peels would not upset them. They need dry materials as well as slimy vegetable cuttings, so I go out to find crispy brown leaves and wander off my path cut handfuls of dry prairie grass. Usually the worms and the compost smell like fresh forest soil, but sometimes, a rotten-pumpkin cloud of stink will emerge from the bin. This is the worms saying that they cannot breathe, that there is too much moisture, that oxygen is trapped between cucumber ends and molding spinach. Some more dead leaves, some more dry grass, and the smell of clean black soil again returns.
The compost from these worms is amazingly rich. Liquid that collects in the bottom of the bin is so full of nutrients that it must be watered down ten-to-one before pouring onto the garden. With only their chewing, the worms give us the world-renewing gift of fertility. Clean, simple, renewable, powerful.
The worms remind us that we are what we eat. If we could see another spacetime dimension of ourselves, we would look like worms gnawing through the experiences of the world. One moment comes in through the mouth, is digested, the gold is extruded from the lead, and it passes away. A worm has a long digestive system and the first bite takes a long while to be the first nightsoil. If you could see the moments of your life this way, would you be pleased with what comes and goes inside you? Every experience is eaten. You are what you eat. What are you, then?
Bless the Maker and His water.
Bless the coming and going of Him.
May His passage cleanse the world.
May He keep the world for His people.
A question for reflection: What are you eating? What are you passing? What is still inside, waiting to be composted away?