Eight Legged Architects – Spider Lessons in Surprise, Smallness, and Diligence

A Handmaid News

Can we learn anything from spiders? Yes! And not just how to kill them! Our Founder joked that he understand the nuns’ tendency to welcome all creatures…unless they were in our cells. In general, unless its a danger, if its outside, we leave it be. But as Fall approaches and cool morning fogs increase in frequency, the often hidden world of the wonder working eight legged architects, otherwise known as spiders, becomes spectacularly displayed in the dew.

Hidden gems in the woods.

A stretch of grass, thought to be nothing but pristine blades of green, suddenly resembles a tent city of tiny, intricate webs, heavy with dew and waiting for the less than careful breakfasts about to be trapped. Trails in the woods, again usually clear, are found in truth to be hung with every web imaginable, including perfectly circular disks reflecting the colors one usually only finds on the underside of a CD or DVD.

Maybe these spiders were trying to match the ironwork design.

Gates, statues, lights, rocks, even our Stations of the Cross, all find themselves made overnight into complex resorts and condominiums as if they were delighting in our discovery of them at first light.

Spend some time examining an intricate web next time it appears full of minuscule water droplets in the sun. Start thinking about scale and effort. Symmetry. Radials. Degrees. Spacing. How big is the spider? How many body lengths is the width of the web? And its main supporting strands? How many rows were stringed into this? How many trips back and forth, back and forth, back and forth? What would be the human equivalent? A man in a car drives through a fast food restaurant serving window to get a package much smaller than he is and gets it in minutes. What if, to get that hamburger, he had to knit/crochet/sew a loose fitting blanket the size of a traffic intersection? And hang it up right, just right to capture a little hamburger? What if, the moment he did so, it tore in the wind and he had to fix it or go hungry? What if it had to be almost invisible to work?

Perhaps God teaches us lessons not only with spider webs but with these eight legged architects, spiders, themselves. Hidden strength, masterful planning, obscure labor, contentedness in smallness and hiddenness, and rock-solid-unstinting diligence. Hmmm. Almost sounds like a plan for growing in holiness, doesn’t it?