MY NEIGHBOR walked in my yard last night; I found his footprints this morning. It is not the first time he has walked there, but we seldom meet. He works at night and sleeps by day. Our paths cross like this in the dewy dawn after he has gone to bed.
But how can our paths cross when he isn't there? Ah, my neighbor leaves his telltale path behind him. I know exactly where he walked. Here he climbed the sheer walls of the risers of the steps and meandered on the treads. Here is a straightaway of about fifteen feet along the cement walk. I am astounded at the prodigious amount of work involved in these shining trails, comparable to my walking from Nashville to Memphis in one night-building my road as I go and carrying my house on my back.
If I had been here in the cool stillness of the after-sunset glow, or in the moonlight, and I had looked where I stepped, and had been willing to bend and pause, I would have been able to "... watch the tube-eyed snail Creep o’er his long moon-glittering trail."
Marvelous evidences of the Creator's wisdom are in the structure and life habits of the "creeping things.". Nightly the snail, with placid perseverance, goes about his task of cleaning up my dooryard. Mold, decaying vegetation are his to remove. Incomprehensible is the amount of scavenger work done by the lowly snail population of grass-roots jungles and vegetable plots. Let him have his few bites of fresh-lettuce-leaf dessert. A laborious life he leads, contributing to the well-being of lordly man, who would crush him under a brutal, stupid foot if he saw him.
The snail, as the Bible says, "goeth upon the belly." (Leviticus 11:42.) The learned have called him a gastropod—a "stomach-footed" creature. He literally does what the small boy with his sled calls "belly bumping." On his stomach on the ground he creeps by amazing muscles arranged by the Creator in his soft stomach side. It is a "belly bumping" road to which he applies these muscles, for his flesh is so soft it seems almost liquid. That gives him his general surname of "mollusk"—soft.
How can anything so soft and weak pull itself over rough cement, dry ground, and scratchy gravel without being cut to pieces? It is because he builds his own road. From his pores he exudes a viscid substance that lays a smooth roadbed over every rough surface. He carries a friction-reducing pathway with him. His life is part of the great pattern of love that God has woven throughout His creation.
Dear heavenly Father, as I go out today to meet the unknown, let me be as placid and trustful as the snail. Over the frictions of daily life may Thy Holy Spirit in my heart shed forth a soothing sweetness that will make the rough places plain. May I move right forward, no matter what the obstacles. And may I leave a shining path of influence that will lead others' thoughts to Thee, as this lowly snail's track has led my morning meditation to my Creator. Amen.