Thursday, February 17, 2011

the Inchworm my brother

Have you seen an inchworm? They're adorable and also quite ridiculous.

(they're really only cute when they're not close to your face)


Annie Dillard writes of the inchworm in The Writing Life:

"Few sights are so absurd as that of the inchworm leading its dimwit life. Inchworms are the caterpillar larvae of several moths or butterflies. The cabbage looper, for example, is an inchworm. I often see an inchworm: it is a skinny bright green thing, pale and thin as a vein, an inch long, and apparently totally unfit for life in this world. It wears out its days in constant panic.

"Every inchworm I have seen was stuck in long grasses. The wretched inchworm hangs from the side of a grassblade and throws its head around from side to side, seeming to wail. What! No further? Its back pair of nubby feet clasps the grass stem; its front three pairs of nubs rear back and flail in the air, apparently in search of a footing. What! No further? What! It searches everywhere in the wide world for the rest of the grass, which is right under its nose. [ . . . ] Each step brings it to the the universe's rim. And now-- What! No further? End of world? Ah, here's ground. What! No further? Yike!"

Dillard speaks of the inchworm with disgust, but this week, I saw him as myself. As though I had no more sense than this small creature, my life is lived exactly the same way. A sure step of faith, clear leading from God, then ... what! no further? I don't know what to do; I panic, flail, step back, question every decision in my lifetime. Now what, God? Oh. Another step. Another beam of light shone exactly where my foot needed to go. Whew. Wait -- What! Now what? God, there's no further! I panic again, even though mere moments ago I was sure.

I wonder how the Isrealites failed so often, forgot so frequently, remembered Egypt so fondly after all the miracles they had seen ... then I remember they were inchworms too. The disciples literally walked with Jesus every day for years, and they were inchworms so often. Who am I to think I have it together more than they, to judge them as I read the accounts of Scripture? I have the entire story in my hand, while the Isrealites maybe had the Pentateuch, and the disciples had the Old Testament. I have the whole story, can see the connections; I understand that Jesus was the Messiah who came to die, to bring final forgiveness and restoration. And yet, even with my greater knowledge, I have no greater wisdom. What! No further?

My God has never let me down, and yet I panic daily. A job in Blacksburg. What! Student loans. No further? Car trouble. End of world! Father, forgive me. Teach me to live in true faith, in true trust.

What! No further?

I ought to close my eyes and jump.

1 comment:

  1. Millie,
    That was very powerful and challenging. Praying for you and hoping you are praying for me, too - your fellow inchworm.
    Love you,