Empathy for a Maggot
How well I remember the first roach I picked up. He came trundling across the carpet in front of me. “Where the hell did you come from?”, I thought, feeling mild repulsion. Then he/she stopped, scratched, groomed, and looked around. Suddenly I related to this fellow living creature. With no hesitation, I reached and quickly snatched my new friend from the floor, carried it to the door and tossed it out into the dark grass, thinking, “Be well”. That felt good.
I remembered Dr. Albert Schweitzer. His auto biography, “Out of My Life and Thought”, had a significant effect on me when first read about fifty years ago. I was deeply struck by the reverence for life lived by this man of compassionate genius. He avoided stepping on an ant, if possible. He awoke in me a deep knowing fundamental to who I am. Everything that is, as especially seen in all living things, emanates out of the ineffable Source we call God, increasingly recognized by physicists as “Universal Mind”, manifested in but not confined by the creation.
Maggots are seen by me as among the most repulsive of living things. When the friend of the Gladiator, Maximus, put maggots in his wounded shoulder to draw out the infection, I shuddered. Two days ago I saw a small white thing on the floor. I picked it up to put in the trash. It was soft. Dropping it in the trash I to my horror realized, “That was a damn maggot!” After thoroughly washing my hands, I wondered how that nasty symbol of death got in my house. I still don’t know.
Four more appeared later that day, crawling across the floor, all headed toward the light coming from the sliding glass doors to the deck. I disposed of the first of the next four, repulsed by it’s presence. Then I remembered. These are living things, created by the Creator. The next one I found I encouraged to crawl onto a piece of paper towel. I watched closely. It reached with small hair-like feelers in the front of it’s head and checked out the paper, cautiously determining if it posed a threat. Was this brainless creature thinking, and making decisions? Was it seeking to avoid danger? Was it seeking to live?
I attempted to force the paper under it. It curled into a small, tight circle in a self-protective manner. I took it and the next two out to the deck and tossed them to the grass. It felt good. Saving life that, as all life does, seeks to live always feels good.
I realized that with the maggots, as with my friend the roach, I was feeling empathy, compassion for a fellow living creature, which contains, no, IS a portion of the Creator, one with but not equal to the Divine.
We are, all of us, traveling this adventure together, dependent upon each other for life.
The Great Question: What is the purpose of life? Simple. To live, and thereby to become Love.