Thursday, June 24, 2010

Worm Jerky - Bridging Earthworms, God, and our Inadequate Language.

Photo by Timothy K. Hamilton - Creativity+
 Subtitle:  How to write about worm poop and God in the same blog post.  ;-)

You can start calling me "Life Saver" if you like, but this story Isn't about me. It's about being a "good neighbor", about earthworms, and ultimately about God, and the inadequacy of our language with regards to the sexuality of God.
I don't know if you've ever seen them. . .but on hot days in my neighborhood, the sidewalk is often littered with the dried up remains of the bodies of one of Nature's finest inventions:  The Earthworm.  Grace and I have jokingly called their carcasses "Worm Jerky"
Ecologically, "worm jerky" is a very sad, instructional and didactic example of what our current way of paving over and cementing the urban landscape has done to some of the most essential creatures to life on earth. Hear a snippet of Joni Mitchel "they've paved paradise, put in a parking lot".  Earthworms have FAR predated us, and have the amazing capacity to squeeze, extrude, and wiggle their way into the topsoil eating dirt.  Now I'm not recommending eating dirt, nor am I suggesting that we defecate outdoors, just to be entirely clear.  Yet the ability to squeeze out of or rather through tight situations is decidedly to be admired. That's in fact what the worms do, and amazingly, their process of going where no man has gone before, eating and pooping does significantly more good for the Earth, than our process of doing the same.
To continue our story. . . When I was returning home from a walk, I spied an earthworm crossing the sidewalk, trying to find some nice cool, loose, damp soil to tunnel into.  Since I supposedly am a higher life form (certainly debatable, and often worth questioning), I was able to recognize both the futility of his effort and the unlikeliness that he would find "greener grass" on the other side.  So I decided to save his LIFE.  Now, that neither makes me a saint nor a hero, because:
1) I learned so much about how earthworms are able to squeeze through tight spots because I had to change my grasp several times due to his ability to reshape his body.  Shape-shifting  is a technique we usually attribute to Demons, Wizards, and RPG heroes.  And here I was, watching the process before my very eyes. (tag: noticing and awareness)
2) I had so much FUN dropping him in my Square foot Garden  (SFG)   If you are not familiar with this urban gardening concept, I found it to be transfomational in the art of gardening in small places, with maximum  yield, and continuous harvesting. The photo is of my SFG, not perhaps in it's prime, but nonetheless a visual example.  Once I dropped him in, he was not able to tunnel into the ground down to the wet underworld he knows so well and calls home.  It's a sort of homeless home, because earthworms don't nest, or have a place to go home to at night,  (kinda like Jesus, eh?) but their home is an extended "neighborhood", where they live, and dine, copulate, eliminate, and make a difference.  The Earth is their home.  They pass through it silently, unnoticed, under-appreciated, working day and night, eating constantly, but leaving the Earth better wherever they go, just by eating, slithering, and pooping.  Once again, don't try this at home, we humans get arrested for similar behavior.
3) It was actually a selfish act.  There is rarely, if ever, an activity we do that is NOT self-serving.  Put more graciously, the good we do in life always makes us feel better and gives us more JOY.  So ultimately it is self rewarding.   I wonder who planned it that way?
4) I learned an important lesson about "being in the 'hood" (link will come later to that post).  If I choose too, I could wander around my neighborhood, taking it in (ingesting the sights, sounds and experience), keep moving, and find ways that making wherever I am a better place (without pooping or getting arrested).

But to finish our story, I found that I needed to moisten the soil in order for the worm to well, "worm" his way down into my fine, high quality, composted soil where he will be eternally grateful for saving his life. . NOT.
The hose was not connected, and I fruitlessly tried to carry hand-loads of water from the backyard faucet to give him a cool shower.  Didn't work.  Undaunted, your (by now, I hope) hero, (me, in case you forgot) found a water-pistol in his bag of goodies that he had just brought from a Drug Store, the name of which, Wallgreens, will go unmentioned. . . oops, too late.  Now, they don't call me Creativity+ for no good reason.  So applying my creative abilities, I designed a water transportation system consisting of filling up the water pistol and then  walking to the garden to give my squirmy new friend the first shower he probably had in his life.  Or at least his first water-pistol fight.   It was decidedly one-sided, as he was neither capable of carrying a weapon or using one.   After I wet the ground though,  he-and-she (earthworms are hermaphorditic) slowly found his-and-her way home.  If you ever need to relax and slow down, take five minutes and watch one of these amazing creatures dive into Mother Earth, to do their thing.  One final thought (Good God, I hope not):
about the inadequacy of the English language.  The earthworm gave me another
5) insight into God as well as the inadequacy of our language.   Hermaphrodism is the word that comes closest in our language to describe the He and She, Father and Mother aspect of God. However inadequately. We truly need to invent a word that accurately describes God's dual nature.  My thought is that Jesus used the word Father during his time on this 3rd planet from an unremarkable star because He lived in a paternalistic, sexist, male dominated society.  And thus using a female reference (2,000 years ago in Palestine) to God would have made it sound like God was powerless, incapable of ownership, dependent on someone else for livelihood, and weak in general.  Jesus was too smart to say:  Dear Mom, who art in heaven. . at least two millenia ago.  The general underdog nature of women in the ancient world may have been the primary reason that God became a man, and not a woman.  If it had worked out in the vast scheme of things for Jesus to have come to earth in present-day America, perhaps we would be worshiping Josephine.  And our prayer could well be "Our Mother, who art in Heaven".
So if someone wants to get busy and change our perception of God, we had better come up with a new word that embraces all there is about being a man AND a woman, intertwined and complete, because neither sex alone embraces all there is to being either Human or God.  So I'm working and generating and creating a new non-gender dependent word that we can use to re-translate the Bible, to rework our thinking, and to greatly improve our accuracy of the word HIM when we refer to god.  And I'm asking you to remember that Jesus could just as easily been incarnate as a woman, were it not for our massive underestimation of women.
I'm toying with words like:  Hirm (combining Him and Her), Se  (combining She and He). . but maybe you could help.  For now, I'm stuck with "Our Loving Parent, Who art in Heaven" as a fresh start towards un-genderizing God.  I think She would appreciate the change in our interpretation.
After all, our language is the entire source of all our meaning, and where our language and words fail us, we fail to have meanings that are accurate, useful, and True.

TAGS:  humor, story, life, death, garden,hot,dry,salvation,ecology,urban,sidewalk,cement,pavement,worm,earthworm,soil,enrichment, meaning, language,sexism,theology,paternalistic,ancient,God
Filed under:  Theology, Musings, Editorial, Humor, God

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