Big fat juicy ones, long slim slimy ones…

On our morning drive to school it was gray and rainy. It looked like a long, wet, gray day without outdoor recess.

As our car inched along in the drop-off line, I spotted a little girl—maybe 6 or 7 years old—bounding along the sidewalk. She was stopping every few feet to bend down to the concrete, pick something up, and then toss it into the grass.

“What is she throwing?” I asked our sons, who were watching too from the backseat. “Are those sticks?”

But then one of the sticks wiggled, and realization dawned.

They were worms.

The little girl was scampering along in the cold drizzly rain, picking up worms and tossing them into the grass.

We were fascinated—and maybe a little bit disgusted. Because…worms.

We talked about how slimy they are, and how we would wash our hands—We would, right? Before snack?—if we picked up worms on our way to school. Then we talked about how happy the worms must be to land in the grass.

Then suddenly we were at the front of the line, and my boys jumped out of the car and ran off to school.

And I drove away thinking about worms.

It has never occurred to me to pick up a worm and move it to moist grass. But this little girl was on a mission. She saw each worm as worth helping. She didn’t care that she was on her way to school. And I have to admire the man patiently walking next to her—I assumed he was her father—who calmly watched as she picked up each worm and tossed it into the grass.

It reminded me of the starfish story.

And it made me think of all the people who see a need and step in to help, happily, willingly, without worry that their hands might get dirty and wet.

The world is full of people who help in large and tiny ways, making a difference for people and creatures, working for causes of all sizes. Maybe God doesn’t need me to rescue the earthworms. Maybe He needs me to help in some other way.

But whatever that is, I hope I can do it with the joy of a little girl running through the rain on her way to school.

Rita Buettner

Rita Buettner

Rita Buettner is a wife, working mother and author of the Catholic Review's Open Window blog. She and her husband adopted their two sons from China, and Rita often writes about topics concerning adoption, family and faith.

Rita also writes The Domestic Church, a featured column in the Catholic Review. Her writing has been honored by the Catholic Press Association, the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association and the Associated Church Press.