We often overlook the life’s most important messages in lieu of the enormous. It’s as if there’s a universal rule that bigger is better—and not only in context of Blue Plate specials or paychecks. So often, I’ve paid the most attention to preachers with big congregations or clothing stores featuring the most famous designers. But wisdom doesn’t come in only one size, or even in Large or Extra Large. One of my greatest teachers wouldn’t have fit in an Extra Small, in fact.
Speedy the mealworm wasn’t very big. He wasn’t especially brilliant. He wasn’t even very appetizing—unless, of course, you happen to be a bird. But he taught me life’s most vital lesson: All love is great love.
I’m not sure if you’ve met many mealworms. I wasn’t too eager to come face-to-face with the first representative of the species to make my acquaintance, but my son Gabriel had won him at school. Speedy must now come to live with us.
From a child’s perspective, mealworms are fascinating creatures, rather like living spit balls or almost-tarantulas. From a mother’s point-of-view, they are God’s most questionable creations, somewhere above dead rodents and below crocodiles. No matter how you cultivate their manners, they only regress, cocooning to turn into—not butterflies, but beetles.
Speedy started life as Dog, not an auspicious start. Gabriel, however, quickly ascertained that Dog could move. On the dining table—on the dog’s tail, whoosh, leaving a trail of gunk that dried to a non-removable Super Glue. Speedy became Gabe’s favorite companion, until tragedy struck.
Gabe decided to teach Speedy how to drive a racecar.
Speedy was dropped through a hole in the roof. He didn’t stand a chance. One table knife, two nail files, and a screwdriver later—he was done. As in d-(ead.)
Gabe went to school crying. He came home crying—although the teacher had sent home a carton of dirt with four more of the things. But Gabe couldn’t stop crying. We buried Speedy in the back yard in a vitamin jar imprinted with this eulogy: Here is Speedy. He was a good mealworm (sic). Thus we sent him off to heaven.
That night, Speedy appeared in a dream. He didn’t look like a mealworm; in fact, he appeared more like a glowing angel than a creepy-crawly. I knew it was Speedy though, because he delivered a message. He told me to thank Gabe for his great love.
I awoke a changed woman. Could a mealworm really love a little boy? Could a little boy really love a mealworm? If we’re capable of such great love for such seemingly small things, then perhaps… all love is great love. Maybe there’s no little or small, important or not important, real or not real. Maybe all love has the potential to change our hearts—and if so, to change the world. Maybe all love is simply that: love.
And so did Speedy the mealworm teach me something I didn’t know. All love is great love.