Brady the Worm: A Lenten Fable
Once upon a time there was a worm named Brady. He was little. He was slimy and stinky. He was grouchy. He was very grouchy because he was in fact not a worm at all. He was a caterpillar, but did not know it. Brady was rude and very bossy. Brady did not see his neighbors, so everyone told him he had no eyes. Brady did not hear the needs of others, so everyone told him he had no ears. Brady did not help those in need, so everyone told him he had no hands. Brady did not act on behalf of those in want, so everyone told Brady he had no feet.
I have no eyes. I have no ears. I have no hands or feet. I must be a worm, Brady decided, and this made Brady grouchy. He slinked and slithered. He tunneled and pushed. He rolled and he writhed through all manner of messes. Brady bullied and bossed, and he sulked and insulted. He was a nasty worm. He had no friends.
One day a bird flew over, chirping a song, while Brady rustled and wiggled under leaves and grass. He hated the song. He hid in his leaves, he lay in his grass, and he sulked in his mud. He yelled at the bird, “Go away, no one likes your song!”
A toad hopped by one rainy day, but Brady sulked in silence, paying him no mind. The toad croaked, which made Brady bury himself deeper in the mud.
Two big eyes appeared in the mud hole. “Croak,” said the toad.
“I do not want you in my home. You smell like flies! Now get out,” said Brady.
Soon the grass began to green and flowers started their bloom and Brady heard his name. Brady saw what looked to be an angel flying overhead. Brady experienced a feeling he had never felt before.
The stranger said, “I am a butterfly. I was a caterpillar like you, once.”
Brady had never heard the word caterpillar before. “But you are beautiful. But you fly. But you do not stink or slither or wiggle,” Brady said.
The butterfly fluttered down and spoke. “No, I fly to friends, I brighten and I share. I cause smiles and laughter. I bring joy and I have purpose. I have become what I am. I am free to fly.”
Brady did not understand.
The butterfly, in patient kindness said, “I was once like you—bound to earth, to dirt, to mud, to leaf and branch. I was grouchy, too, but this silly idea of being a worm and acting very wormlike is a folly that must be corrected and is the cause of your grouchiness. We have a Creator who has made and set all things in motion. He transforms all things into what they are meant to be. You were meant to be a butterfly.” And the messenger continued, “A Lenten Season has been given to us. A period of time to give up our worminess, our mud, our dirt, our slithering and slime. A time to meditate and think and ponder in our minds and in our hearts.”
Just then a strange thing happened. A spell fell over Brady. A cocoon enveloped him and wrapped him snugly. For forty days this spell worked. Inside his cocoon, he gave up his worminess. He gave up his grouchiness, his bossiness, his slimy and selfish attitude. From within, he heard the song of the bird. He heard the croak of the toad. He did not yell, he did not hide, he only thought of what the butterfly had told him. “The creator transforms all into what they are meant to be.”
Suddenly the cocoon began to shake, and bright light rushed inside. Brady began to feel himself become light, weightless, floating, flying, up, up, up. Brady was a butterfly. His wings stretched forth, and he soared. He saw. He smiled.
“This is what it feels like to be who I am,” he sang. “I gave up my dirt and now the sky is my home!”
Brady could hear the laughs of children as they chased after him and played. Brady saw joy on the faces of those who smiled when he landed near them. Brady had eyes to see, ears to hear, and wings that flew. He sang with the bird. He hopped with the toad. and he looked for the angel that had flown to him as springtime began.
One day as Brady and Betty Butterfly were taking care of their own little caterpillars, a familiar voice was heard. “Brady?”
Brady looked up and he saw the messenger. “I am a butterfly now,” Brady said.
“You always were,” said the messenger.
Both of them felt joy and flew together one last time.
By James Michael Gill