In third grade I read the book, Charlotte’s Web. I was enthralled. It’s a story about a brilliant, compassionate (and miraculously literate) arachnid and her unlikely friend, a pig named Wilbur. The author, E.B. White, described Charlotte’s web-spinning and Wilbur’s wonder in such vivid detail that I imagined myself in the barn, surrounded by farm animals, gazing at one of Charlotte’s delicately dazzling designs.
Charlotte was simply enchanting… wise, witty, loyal, true. And without a doubt the finest web designer/spinner/speller in all the (farm)land. But even Charlotte couldn’t dispel my fears nor diminish my disdain for those eight-legged mini-monsters commonly called spiders.
A couple weeks back, I was washing my hair and minding my own business, when I felt a distinctly creepy/crawly sensation on the back of my leg. A spider the size of a golf ball (or maybe a garbanzo bean; I can’t recall due to post-traumatic stress) was scaling my calf. Suffice it to say that the blood-curdling screams echoing from the master bath were eerily reminiscent of the shower scene in “Psycho.”
Just the mere thought of a spider crawling on my person is enough to give me the quivers, shivers, and shakes. Eight hairy legs and those beady eyes… Seriously, God? That’s just FREAKY.
(I may or may not have a moderate to severe case of arachnophobia.)
Despite my irrational fears, however, I do find spiders fascinating. At a distance. (You know: far, far away. In illustrated encyclopedias… and cyber space.)
Here’s a little smattering of spider facts for your All Hallows’ Eve reading pleasure:
There are at least 38,000 different species of spiders.
Over 1 million spiders live on every acre. Scientists estimate that a human is never more than 10 feet from a spider. Ever. Even when we sleep. (I feel a case of insomnia coming on.)
When a spider moves, it has 4 legs touching the ground and 4 legs in the air at any given moment.
All spiders have spinnerets which act like tiny showerheads with hundreds of holes, all spinning liquid silk.
For its (ultralight) weight, a spider web is stronger than steel.
Spiders have blue blood.
The goliath spider can grow up to 11 inches long with 1-inch fangs it uses to hunt mice, lizards, birds, and frogs.
Most spiders build a new web every day, but some spiders “recycle” their webs by eating and later reusing them.
Spiders don’t have teeth; instead, they inject their prey with digestive juices and suck up their innards.
Spiders lay as many as 3000 eggs at a time.
Most spiders are nearsighted. However, certain species can see both UVA and UVB light.
The venom of a female black widow is 15 times as powerful as the poison of a rattlesnake.
Spiders webs have electrically conducive glue spread across their surface so they “spring” toward their prey.
Except this kind:
So that’s your zoology lesson for the day, friends. (Courtesy of National Geographic, FactRetriever.com and yours truly.) A spine-chilling, hair-raising Halloween science tutorial you can impart to your little superhero/ princess/ ninja/ unicorn/ dinosaur/ ladybug/ zombie/ Disney character/ karate kid(s) as they sort their Whoppers/ Twizzlers/ Tootsie Rolls/ Twix/ Nerds/ Snickers/ Skittles/ Starburst/ Sour Patch Kids/ Kit Kats and my personal fun-size favorite, Reese’s Peanut Butter Pumpkins.
I digress. (It’s the sugar buzz.)
Back to those abominable arachnids…
And their astonishing handiwork…
Look at that web. Pretty amazing, isn’t it? But despite its beauty and resilience, it’ll tear with a gust of wind or brush of the hand. It gives way at the slightest pressure. The intricate, elaborate work of the spider is instantly torn and tattered, undone. . . and unspun.
Just like that.
What about us? Life has too many strong gusts and sudden sideswipes to rely on something flimsy or fragile to anchor us. Everyone needs a lifeline: a safety net, securely fastened to provide strong support in tumult and trouble, durable enough to catch us. And hold fast.
What are you hanging onto?
So often, we perceive “things” will keep us safe and sound: houses and health insurance, law enforcement agencies and pharmaceuticals, security systems and savings accounts and self-defense courses. We mistakenly believe that if we put all the right pieces in place, nothing will breach our carefully constructed “fortresses.” We rely on our own resilience, resources and capabilities to rescue us. Or we rely on others: family, friends, doctors, lawyers, therapists (all of whom will eventually fail us. . . or leave us. . . or die.)
Such is the destiny of all who forget God; so perishes the hope of the godless. What they trust in is fragile; what they rely on is a spider’s web. They lean on the web, but it gives way; they cling to it, but it does not hold. ~ Job 8:13-15
In all the universe, there’s only one unfraying, unfailing, utterly indestructible safety net. Only one surefire source of protection and provision. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not proffering a source of lifelong “health, wealth, and prosperity” here. I’m not delusional. (Except about my party-planning skills and my dance moves, perhaps.) And I’m not suggesting that anyone — anywhere – can promise a footloose and fancy-free, always beautiful-and-blissful life. There’s no actual Shangri-La or Xanadu to be found on Planet Earth. There’s no Fountain of Youth either, by the way. I’ve looked. (The State of Denial is very real, however. I know some people who live there.)
The truth is… life is hard. It hurts. Sometimes relentlessly. Excruciatingly. Or both.
Man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward. ~ Job 5:7
There it is. The Good Book readily acknowledges all the bad and ugly in life too. Ongoing affliction, sudden calamity, depths of sorrow. Anguish, grief, destruction, despair.
There’s no getting around it. Wealthy or poor, citizen or refugee, religious or skeptic, educated or illiterate… troubles are inevitable. Struggles, strife, conflict and crises are just par for the course. And worse yet, every once in a while the bottom drops out.
Wildfires. Tornados. Tsunamis.
Drunk drivers. Child abusers. Snipers. Savages.
There’s no foolproof preventative for every disaster, no miracle cure for every disease, no effective antidote to toil/trials/terror/rage. And no vaccination against psychosis.
But there is someone who promises to never leave you, forsake you or fail you. No matter how bad things get.
Someone whispers to you in your darkest hour…
I am with you… I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you…
Who is acutely aware of what you’re going through, even right now? Who’s attentive to your every need, always? Who sees you – really sees – and knows you, heart and soul? Who’s aware of what lies ahead and is already there, waiting for you with open arms? Who is tenderly, mercifully caring for you day and night? God Himself gives the answer:
Yes… indeed. He is.
Clinging to Him tonight and every night,
P.S. Wishing you all a happy Halloween and a joyous start to the holiday season. Only 23 days ’til Thanksgiving… (Get your GRATEFUL on!)