It’s been raining a lot lately here in the beautiful Pacific NW. Shocking, I know. This kind of damp, misty, and downright stormy weather shakes the leaves down from their branches and pushes the slugs up on to the sidewalks.
A few weeks ago, some of the classes at school invited me to talk about how writers get their ideas. One way, I told them, was to get really still and watch nature for awhile. This past week, I found myself taking my own advice during a rainy crossing guard duty. Most kids weren’t walking, but getting rides that day, so for about fifteen minutes I watched a four-inch-long slug slowly sliding its way from the edge of the school lawn toward the bright yellow braille-inspired rectangle at the corner–you know, the bumpy part that helps seeing-impaired people know where the sidewalk ends and the street begins.
Slugs must not have very good vision, because this particular slug headed (slowly, oh, so slowly) directly toward that bright yellow area, and then about four inches away from it, it stopped dead in its tracks. I could almost hear its tiny brain wondering what to do: Go straight toward that yellow mountainous land? Turn right? Turn left? Those yellow bumps must have looked to the slug like they went on forever in three directions.
Watching that creature, and seeing its dilemma, I wanted to shout, “Go right! It’s the short way around!” Better yet, “Turn AROUND! There’s nothing ahead but street and fast-moving things that can squash you in an instant! Go back to the grass!”
Alas, I do not speak Slug. I looked around for a stick, but didn’t see anything to move it with (and my bare hand was not an option, and besides, I was having too much fun watching it to see what it would do). The slug turned left and headed right toward the middle of the walking path of the crosswalk. The bell rang, and as I reluctantly walked back toward the school, the writer part of me was rapidly making up a story–the slug was kind of skinny, and not the longest slug I’ve seen since moving to Seattle–maybe it was a teenager slug, spreading its, um, not wings, but whatever it spreads, and out for his first foray out of the grass. Perhaps it didn’t know about streets and cars and two-legged creatures who walk across that yellow, bumpy thing.
How to warn him? The best way would have been to be another slug, perhaps a bigger one who could see farther, or a wiser one who knew the ways of streets and feet and grass. Like a seeing-eye dog who helps the blind navigate around, a seeing-eye slug would have come in really handy. He certainly needed a helping hand, because on Monday morning, there was the slug, only a few inches farther than when I had left him on Friday, squished flat.
Poor slug! What got him? Late feet running to school on Friday after I had left the corner? Trick-or-treaters that night in the dark?
Sometimes our own vision, our knowledge of what lies around the next bend, or how to get back on the best path, is woefully short-sighted. We view the mountains in our way as problems to overcome, when they might actually be placed there to protect us from hidden dangers beyond. We forget that the safest route might (as they say in the airline industry) be behind us.
But we are lucky–blessed–because we have a “seeing-eye slug” of sorts. Someone who speaks our language. Someone who knows the best route for each of us because he created us and loves us most. Someone who wasn’t afraid to get his hands slimy–nailed to a cross, actually–for our sake. Someone we celebrate each Christmas and Easter!
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son. . . .John 3:16
For friends new to this blog, “Wednesday’s Word” is a weekly Bible audio clip that rotates between Genesis, Luke and Psalms. Occasionally, I post “Wednesday’s Word to the Free,” a short Bible passage on what it means to be free. Freedom is a very big concern to Timley Mouse, the tiniest character in my upcoming novel, Bon Voyage, Sophie Topfeather!
On Sundays, I post an article-type post on themes in the novels: faith, friendship, diversity, etc. Thanks for reading! Feel free to share!