October 14, 2011

The grace of slugs: the value of going on retreat

I hate slugs.

I hate their ugly fat bodies. Their sludgy colours. Their icky sliminess. Their eating-my-lettuce-behaviour. I hate them.

Last weekend, I was on a three day retreat in a hut at the bottom of a garden. I had nothing to do but sit on a chair (or walk round the hut) and look at what was around me. For hour after hour after hour. After hour.

After hour.

On the third day, after rain, a slug came to see me.

He had the darkest black velvet optical tentacles. They reached in front of him delicately, tasting the air.

I looked at the stippled patterns on his body. The direction changed at his foot fringe, which looked like a skirt brushing the surface of the path. His trail glittered.

His body moved with a grace that astonished me. Like a fish in slow motion, or the curve of a swan’s neck, or a ballerina’s arms. I watched him slide his way towards the grass. He was beautiful.

I don’t think slugs will ever be my favourite animal. Especially as we have two seven week old kittens scampering around our house at the moment…

But it did take silence, and time, and space, for me to notice their beauty.


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