Almost every day, sometimes twice a day, Nancy and I climb into our utility cart and go for a ride on the trails around and through our woods and prairie. We used to go for walks, but since Nancy's stroke last March that's just not possible anymore. Yet, she enjoys and wants to experience the trees, the tall grasses, the wildflowers, the glimpses of wild turkeys, deer, coyotes, beaver, groundhogs, coyotes, and more.
So I help her up into the cart and off we go at a pace similar to that we used to walk. Up and down paths wide and narrow, bumpy and smooth. Always watching for a new seasonal wildflower, a hawk, a scurrying skunk.
One thing we always forget to watch for -- and indeed is hard to watch for -- are spiderwebs.
I hate spiders. Have since I was little kid. It's must be a genetic hate -- Grandma Bill hated them, too. With a passionate hate. One time she called my grandad to come get rid of one in their bedroom. He'd been at the kitchen table cleaning his pump action 12 gauge shotgun and arrived in their room carrying it. "Lew, get rid of that spider!" grandma demanded. "How?" "You have a gun," she shouted. "Use it if you must." And then stormed out the room.
Of course, he didn't. Use the gun that is. But it's always made a good family story.
But back to spiderwebs and utility cart rides.
At least once on every ride, we run, usually face first (our cart is pretty simple -- no windshield) into a spider web. Nancy is generally pretty calm and just wipes it away. I am frantic, certain that the spider, probably a black widow or brown recluse, has scampered off the web and is at that very moment working its way down the collar of my shirt and under my t-shirt looking for a place to bite me. Probably my fat belly.
After the brushing and me smacking areas on my shirt where I think the poisonous pest might have taken up residence, I step on the accelerator and we inch off down the trail. And run into another web.
These head on collisions with spiderwebs have left me pondering though the persistence of these creatures. I can imagine, sort of, making a web that is goes across a six foot wide windy path in the woods, but bridging one that is twelve to fifteen feet wide? How do they do that?
Now I don't really care what the answer is -- learning how they do that is not that important to me. What is important is that they do it at all and the work that goes into it. And the ancillary fact that the same place I drive through today and run into a spiderweb may find another there tomorrow. Ambitious little arachnids -- God's creations doing what they were created to do. In the face of politics, division, war, pandemic. Oh wait, could that stuff only matter to us people who seem too often to do that which is other than what we were created to do.
In the midst of my musings, I picked up a book of Jane Tyson Clement's poems. And, in the mysterious ways the Divine teaches me, came across her poem "The Spider"
I watch the spider fling
its most improbable thread ―
from aspen limb to birch
and back again.
So do we fling our faith
from star to star
and under God’s eternal, watching care
the perfect orb
Now I'm still no big fan of spiders. But I'm happy for the lesson they are teaching me -- to be true to my nature as one of God's beloved creatures.
To do the work I'm called to do.
To trust in the Lord.
To know it will be enough.