Two days ago I saw a big bug moving in the dark shadows. Turned on the lamp, and the big bug was revealed to be a silverfish, now holding still and attempting to blend in with the lint in the corner. I got the broom and smooshed the silverfish, which then scuttled out into the center of the office. I smooshed it again and the silverfish quit this world.
Yesterday on the way to Coffee Chicago I saw a worm struggling in the sun on the sidewalk. It was clearly uncomfortable, clearly lost or misplaced. I picked up the worm and gently set it in a nearby garden.
I don’t know why one creature met with my violence, the other with compassion. I could give you a lot of words about the silverfish’s incursion on my territory, its speed of movement, its threat to my sleeping form, and about the worm’s plight and vulnerability, its benefit to gardens and greenery, and its readiness for easy rescue. But the truth is that I don’t know why I saved one and not the other, the same way that I don’t know why I give money to some who ask for it and not to others. The same way that some win genetic lotteries, and others do not.
When I’m able to imagine a god in the popular reckoning of gods, I imagine divine influence like the parable of the worm and the silverfish. You could ask, “why did you save this one, and not the other?” and the god would say, ” … facked if *I* know!”