Today I offer a story. It's a true story, although it happened two years ago, so I've filled in some forgotten details. My mom may remember it differently. No picture included, since many of you would find a picture revolting... ;)
Mom’s cry of surprise brought me running. I found her crouched down, staring, eyes wide, at an unwelcome visitor: a large green slug with black spots had found its way into the sunroom. Perhaps it rode in on mom’s garden shoes, or perhaps it had stuck itself to the red bucket she uses to gather vegetables. Regardless of how it got in, it had now left a trail of slime across the doormat and had started to ooze its way up the wall.
Thinking quickly, I pulled a sheet of paper out of the recycle bin and set it against the wall in front of the slug. It seemed hesitant at first, but perhaps it sensed that I meant it no harm, and it slowly oozed forward onto the paper. I waited. Mom waited behind me, poised with a wet rag to clean up the mess. Keith waited, watching and snickering.
Once the slug made it fully onto the paper, I gently removed it from the wall and carried it outside, looking for a good spot for a slug to live. Not too close to the vegetable plot or the flower garden, but somewhere with some cover. I set the paper down amid some tall, late-summer grass. Slowly the slug oozed forward. And I waited.
Time stood still as I watched the small creature, transfixed. In the world, there was only me and the slug and the tall grass. Every tiny undulation of its slimy body, every change of its course, the iridescent pink of the trail left behind reflecting back the afternoon sunlight. The slug came to the edge of the paper, hesitated slightly, and continued into the tall grass. “Goodbye,” I whispered.
Suddenly time started up again. I stood up, dazed by the bright sun. I heard the clucking of our neighbor’s chickens and the distant barking of a dog. Glancing towards the vegetable garden, I wondered what was for supper. I remembered that I had been in the middle of writing an email when interrupted by the slug’s intrusion.
As I shuffled towards the house and my responsibilities, I turned once, gazing back into the tall grass.
As I write this story down two years later, I wonder why the slug in the sunroom remains so firmly fixed in my memory, when so many other stories and names and details have faded into the past. Perhaps I remember it because it was a serendipitous moment, a divine intervention, a space to breathe. I have learned not to let these moments go to waste. This moment became, oddly enough, one of the highlights of home assignment for me.