The Blessing of Spiders

Pentecost 16

All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his decrees.            (Psalm 25:10)

The Spider‘s Web

The spider dropping down from a twig

Unfolds a plan of her devising

A thin premeditated rig

To use in rising.

And all that journey down from space,

In cool descent and loyal hearted

She spins a ladder to the place

From where she started.

Thus I, gone forth as spiders do

In spider’s web a truth discerning,

Attach one silken strand to you

For my returning.

— E.B. White, cited in Words I Wish I Wrote by Robert Fulghum

It is spider season at my home.  Nancy is out on our porch almost every day spraying for spiders.  Our former exterminator told us that we have the perfect environment for the flourishing spider population.  Plenty of water (Nancy waters the plants on the porch every day) and darkness (our deck is pretty dark underneath thr boards).  Seeing the morning work effort of yet one more wolf spider who built a web in the overnight hours that looks amazing, we find ourselves bringing out the bug spray anyway.  The web does not distract us from our mission to eradicate every spider in a ten mile radius.

As we spray, I think of this E.B. White poem — a poem which I come across regularly as I wander through Robert Fulghum’s anthology of interesting literary excerpts he has collected over the years,m entitled Words I Wish I Wrote.  Knowing the general theme of the poem, and the commanding image of this strand we leave attached to loved ones, I wondered what were my strands that I leave connected to my kids.  Silly things like turns of phrase and family jokes.  Common interests like marching band, music, and our passion for family stragegy games like The Settlers of Catan and Abyss.  Foundational principals about faith and life (I hope) and a system of ethics which they have accepted for the most part, and yet tweaked into their own personal systems.  A regular reminder and (hopefully even more regular) expressions of the love I have for each of them.

Knowing I would choose this poem as today’s resource piece, I then thought in broader terms.  What strands do I leave connected to God, when I leave his presence through a distracted mind, or selfish spirit?  What are my life-lines back to my Savior?  Certainly these strands aren’t directive ones that I initiate, as they are with my kids.  For God is the one who has left his strands of love and faith in our lives, so that he can always return to us when we have drifted away.  But since we share in this covenantal relationship with God, are we not obligated by the common bond which is between us, to also leave marks of our devotion to God?  Isn’t that part of the bargain?

What “return” strands do you leave connected to God, which are always present, when you feel distant from God, and strive to reconnect?  Communal worship . . . prayer . . . the reading of Scripture . . . acts of love and service . . . a sacred or holy place . . . favorite Bible verses or hymn stanzas that are etched by repetition in your memory like initials on an old oak tree?  As you pray this week, think about those strands which connect you to God.  Many if not most of them are ones that God has attached to your life, as a sign of his faithfulness and love for you as his child.  But a few at least must be talismans of your commitment to the covenant of love God has offered to us through the Cross of Christ.  Think for a moment about those strands.  Are they gossamer-thin, and at risk of breaking at the slightest wind, or are they strong bonds that have withstood storms of doubt, anger, and apathy?  Do your strands stand alone, or are they wound together into a web-like network of fibers, each of whose individual strength is augmented by the companionship of other strands?  I am not a big fan of spiders, but I do love to watch and study spider webs.  They are remarkable testimonies to the strength found in yoking and inter-connectedness.  May the strands which connect you to God, weave a web of faithfulness this week and always.

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Rev. Craig Ross

Senior Pastor

The vibrancy of life here at St. Peter’s makes my service on our staff a joy and privilege. Visitation, teaching and preaching are the ministries that feed my pastoral identity, as together our staff and lay members share in our missional calling … Building a community of faith by God’s grace.

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