VIRTUES & VICES
"The Worm and the Thread"
Once there was a worm who went by the name of
Willie, who lived in a burrow called Wormy Womp-pile. Now a Womp-pile
is not such a lovely place to live for a people like you and me, but
for a worm of Willie's size it is a wondrous place indeed.
You may be wondering, "What
is a womp-pile?" and you would be wise indeed to ask such a question.
If you were to ask that question of Willie and his friends, they would
tell you that a Womp-pile is a grand villa surrounded by tall green
trees and golden lakes. But since it was me who you asked; I will have
to tell you that a Womp-pile is what a cow leaves behind in a cow
pasture in her daily chore of nibbling grass.
"One man's mansion is
another man's cow-patty," as they say.
Now it should be known that
worms are very industrious animals, not a bit like the snail and the
slug who sun themselves on rocks and perch on leaves in order to watch
Willie and the worms of Wormy Womp-pile work away. Oh no; Willie and
the worms work very hard each day digging holes in the ground searching
for tasty roots and expanding their housing development for future
worms of Wormy Womp-pile.
Worms, you see, are complacent
creatures, content to dig and eat, and play ring-around-the-rosy in
their cozy womp-pile.
But Willie was a different sort of
worm. He was not much like the other worms with whom he worked and
wandered. No; Willie had a curious streak located right where his heart
would have been, if worms had a heart.
Willie was not like the
other worms, and the other worms of Wormy Womp-pile knew it, and
wondered mightily about Willie Worm's wisdom.
And what stirred Willie's
curiosity-spot that lay right where his heart would be, if worms had a
heart; was a single golden thread that hangs from the sky; Right in the
middle of Wormy Womp-pile it hangs. Day after day after day the thread
hangs, suspended from nothing at all but the sky above.
"Don't go near that thread!"
every-worm warned Willie. "It's there to tempt and tease us worms of
Wormy Womp-pile," they warned Willie. Over and over, and many times the
worms warned Willie to stay away from the golden thread that hangs from
nothing, and goes nowhere at all.
And Willie listened. Usually.
But today is a different day than all
the different days that had gone on before. Today Willie is finding
himself irresistibly drawn to the golden thread that hangs from nowhere
and is suspended from nothing but the sky above. Yes; today is a
different day indeed.
"Don't go near the thread!" all the
worms warned Willie as they witnessed the look that was in the place
where Willie's eyes would be, if worms had eyes. "We see that look in
the place your eyes would be, if worms had eyes. We can see how you are
being irresistibly drawn to that golden thread that hangs from nothing
and goes to no place at all."
But it was plain to see that Willie
wasn't listening; even if worms had ears with which to listen. He just
continued to stare; if worms had eyes with which to stare, at the
golden thread that hangs from nothing at all.
"Legend has it," Wanda Worm whispered
from a safe distance from the golden thread that hangs from nothing at
all, "that other worms have been irresistibly drawn to the golden
thread, and have disappeared, never to be seen again by any worm, even
if worms had eyes with which to see."
Now all the worms of Wormy Womp-pile
knew that if there was any-worm that could dissuade Willie Worm from
the madness he was obviously considering; it was Wanda Worm. Wanda Worm
was the "Worm's Worm," and had curves in all the right places; many,
many, many of them.
And every-worm knew that
Willie had eyes for Wanda; if worms had eyes with which to have for
Willie Worm turned what would have
been his head, if worms had a head, away from the golden thread and
focused his attention on Wanda Worm. What self-respecting worm wouldn't
have done the same?
All the worms of Wormy Womp-pile gave
a tremendous sigh of relief; if worms had lungs with which to....; oh,
but you know what I'm going to say without my
But Willie Worm's attention had only
been averted for a moment, and was once again irresistibly drawn back
to the irresistible golden thread that hangs from nothing at all.
"Willie Worm, it is insanity that is
causing you to be irresistibly drawn to that golden thread," Dr.
Wormwood, the Head Doctor of headdoctor's expounded. (It must be
explained that Doctors do not just say things
like you and me; they expound, or perform some other ritual that we
lesser mortals do not understand or appreciate.) "It is plain as the
nose on your face, if you had a nose, or a face with which to have a
nose on, that you are suffering from a broken sibling; and it is
imperative that you consult me at your earliest convenience. Here is my
But Doctor Wormwood's expert counsel
went unheeded, for Willie Worm's interest in the golden thread had not
abated; no, not even for a moment.
It was clear to all that someone with
more influence and authority was needed to divert this wayward worm
from his reckless ways.
So in response to such a
crises as this, the Reverend Mister Blackworm stepped forward; his
concordance and lexicon in his hand, if worms had hands.
theologies and eschatologies are all in agreement, my son, indicating
that what you are contemplating is ridiculous, dangerous, foolhardy,
and just downright sinful. And therefore I must insist that you turn
away from this insidious madness immediately, and let us lay hands on
you, that is if we had hands, and pray for the redemption of your
Such an impassioned plea could not
possibly go unheeded.
And it did not.
Willie Worm stepped up to the golden
thread, figuratively speaking, that hangs from nothing and goes nowhere
at all, and gave it a tug in order to assure its ability to hold his
weight. Worms, you see, are not without faith, but they also test their
situation to insure that it is up to the challenge.
All the worms of Wormy Womp-pile
heaved a gasp in unison, Then, with bated breath, they all stared as if
they had eyes with which to stare at the pudgy worm before them as he
slowly began his climb up the golden thread that hangs from nothing and
goes to nowhere at all.
"He'll never make it," said Wilfred
"The thread will break, sure
as all get-out," retorted Windle Worm, retorically.
"Whatever may be the outcome of this
exhilarating experience, it will make wondrous material for a poem,"
soliloquized Waldo Emerson Worm, woefully.
And while there was much ado and
speculation as to the outcome of this extraordinary event, rapt
attention never once left Willie Worm as he continued his climb, and
that slowly for sure, up the golden thread that hangs from nothing and
goes to nowhere at all.
And to be sure, there was
not a worm amongst them who could not claim to have had a worm's eye
view of this historical event, that is if worms had eyes with which to
behold such an event.
While Willie Worm climbed the golden
thread, speculation of every sort was discussed amongst the observers
at the bottom of the thread that hangs from nothing and goes nowhere at
all. Every conceivable failure was considered, with not a single worm
amongst them that exhibited the slightest confidence in the success,
whatever that might be, of Willie Worm's heroic exploit.
"Look!" cried Wanda Worm excitedly.
"Willie has disappeared into nowhere at all!
All eyes, figuratively
speaking, searched the skies above them trying for but a glimpse of the
tail end of Willie Worm. But there was not a sign or a shadow of a worm
to be seen.
"The sky has swallowed him up, just
like I said it would," speculated Witherton-Whimbey Worm, grandiosely.
"No it didn't," retorted Walton Worm
rhetorically, "he fell off the thread. I saw him with my own two eyes,
if I had eyes with which to see."
Speculation over Willie Worm's fate
ran rampant amongst the witnessing worms of Wormy Womp-pile, with no
two speculators speculating the same speculation.
* * *
"I have reached the top of the golden
thread," Willie Worm surmised, "and I can go no further. And it appears
that what every-worm was telling me is totally true; there is indeed
nothing at all at the end of the golden thread that hangs from nothing
As Willie Worm clung to the
top of the golden thread that hangs from nothing at all, he surveyed
the sky above him as well as the earth below.
"The sky above is so
magnificent and so clear," Willie Worm said wistfully to no one at all.
"And everything below looks so small and insignificant from way up
here, where it all seemed so big and important from way down there. But
I suppose now that I have reached the top of the golden thread that
truly hangs from nothing and goes nowhere at all; the only alternative
left for me is to turn around and go back down since I've reached the
end of my thread."
While Willie Worm considered such
tactics, a hand reached down from out of nowhere at all, far above the
golden thread that hangs from nothing and goes to nowhere at all,
cradled Willie gently in the palm of the hand, then carried Willie high
above the thread that hangs from nothing and goes nowhere at all.
"I was beginning to believe
that no one from Wormy Womp-pile would ever accept the challenge of the
golden thread," the voice attached to the hand that cradled Willie Worm
"Such a wonderful place this is,"
Willie Worm rhapsodized as he surveyed all that lay before him as he
rested in the palm of the hand that cradled him. "Does all this belong
to you, Sir?"
"Yes, it does, Willie, and
now it belongs to you as well."
"To me? But I am but a worm.
How could I possibly be of any use in such a magnificent place as this.
If it were that I was a man like you, Sir..."
"And that you will be, my son. For
all who hear my voice, and have the courage to climb the golden thread
as you have this day, are rewarded with a body such as mine. Here, I
will sit you on this throne and in a moment you will be as I am."
"Sir, that truly is a
wonderful gift indeed, and more than I could ever wish or hope for;
but, Sir, could I first go back down the golden thread to Wormy
Womp-pile and tell the other worms about the thread that hangs from
nothing and goes to nowhere at all? Can I let them know that the golden
thread does go to somewhere wonderful and
beautiful, and that they, too, can have a body such as you have?"
"It will not change their minds, my
son. They have their own stories and faerie tales they would rather
believe than anything you or I might tell them. But if you wish, you
may return and try as you will."
So once again Willie Worm journeyed
down the golden thread that hangs from nothing and goes to nowhere at
all, happily carrying a message of greatest importance to those he
cared for most on earth; the worms of Wormy Womp-pile..
* * *
"It's foolishness. We all know you
didn't really climb that thread."
"It was a magic trick. I've
seen it done with ropes and snakes and things like that before."
"It was hypnotism, just like
I always said it was."
"Besides, anybody could
climb that old thread. I could do it easily, if I wanted too."
"Sure, me too, just like I
"It's madness, just as I
warned you. But it's not too late. Here is my card."
"Just like I told you, my
son, stay away from that golden thread. It's evil and will bring you
delusions and lead you astray. Let us lay hands on you and...."
"No, no! You have it all wrong! You
have to listen to me!" Willie Worm cried to those of Wormy Womp-pile.
"It's wonderful up there. And all you have to do is believe it enough
to climb the thread. You don't have to stay a
worm. You can be men and women! You can have eyes
to see, and ears to hear. You can even have a heart
with which to love and care for others. You don't have
to remain worms here in Wormy Womp-pile. All you have to do is believe,
But the worms of Wormy Womp-pile did
not listen to Willie Worm, just as he had been told by the Man at the
end of the golden thread that hangs from nothing and goes to somewhere
wonderful indeed. For as worms are inclined to be; they had no ears to
hear, nor eyes to see.
So Willie Worm again climbed
the Golden thread, this time without fanfare, and with a downcast spot
that would have been, and soon will be his heart, for those he cared
for most on earth; but must leave behind in the little Womp-pile in the
middle of the cow pasture where cows carry on their daily chores and
continue to nibble grass.
story Inspired by Psalms 22:6; Job 25:6; Isa 41:14; Matt 7:14;
13:15-16: 19:28,29; 1Tim 4:6-7]