Such a Worm as I?

I remember from my childhood that there
was a surfeit of jokes that began with the
question, “Why did the chicken cross the
road?” The most common response was, “To
get to the other side.” For some reason, that
punch line frequently stimulated laughter. To
this day, I do not know why. My favorite “Why
did the chicken cross the road” joke was
actually a bit of a variant. It went something
like this, “Why did the punk rocker cross the
road?” The answer, naturally, was, “Because
he had a chicken stapled to his face.” That
one no longer elicits the personal mirth that it
did decades back, but it is a whole lot better
than the standard version. Being of the right
age and station in life, I love dad jokes. But
these don’t suffice. Kind of sad to say that a
joke doesn’t even reach the level of dad joke,
by the way. I am still not quite sure what the
genesis is of the “Why did the chicken cross
the road” question/joke. I think it is supposed
to be philosophical in some sense. I don’t
I learned recently that a large earthworm
can move at about 25 feet per hour. That’s top
speed. High gear. Typically, animals of any
sort only move at their maximum speed when
pursuing or being pursued. Or, they kick it into
turbo when they feel threatened by humans or
human-created things. I believe it is safe to
say, then, that a large earthworm normally
moves along at 10 feet per hour or so. Think
of it this way: a non-threatened, nonstop worm
would go from goal line to goal line on a
football field in about 30 hours. That is not
very fast.

I bring this up because frequently when
I am out exercising, I see earthworms
leaving grass on one side of the road and
heading toward grass on the other side of
the road. Standard lane width is about 12
feet. Thus, a two-lane road, plus any gutter
or shoulder, will measure around 27 feet,
give or take. This means that these worms
are striking out on a journey that is going to
take them at least two hours and 45
minutes to complete. And it is extremely
dangerous. When they hit the asphalt, they
are out of their natural element. They are
subjected to increased heat and, usually, a
complete lack of water. More than that,
even on quiet side roads, they face in that
almost-three-hour journey dozens and
dozens of vehicles. In case you haven’t
thought about it, worms are not exactly
equipped for sudden, dramatic defensive
maneuvers. So why do they do it?
I do not know the answer to this
(although I am sure some of our science-
minded folks know, or will soon). But I am
fascinated by the fact that a creature made
by God willingly leaves its place of comfort
in order to head to an unknown place. And,
that creature made by God places itself in
discomfort and mortal danger along the
way. What would motivate something to do
this? What would cause something God
made to set aside its own personal comfort
and safety for the sake of something else?

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