Archive for July, 2010


As I began my morning’s work today, I had reason to pause at the threshold of the feed shed. A fairly good sized, but harmless, orb spider had built a large web across the door frame and was positioned just to the left of its center as I approached.  I stopped for a moment to admire the creature’s handiwork. It was one of those classic round webs, with hundreds of crisscrossing strands, making it quite the snare for any unsuspecting insect flying through. Beautiful as well as functional. I marveled at of all the elaborate work that had gone into its design, and the time that it must have taken this small creature to build such a structure. Compared to its size, it would be like a person trying to build a bridge across an eight lane highway. As humans, we would have needed a planning committee, six architects with blueprints, lawyers, permits, an army of teamsters, twice as many supervisors, tons of concrete and steel reinforcements, and a two year window to complete the job. This spider did it all by itself, overnight, without the use of any tools or materials other than its own silk. Amazing. I really hated to have to do it, but I tried to be as very careful as I could, and dislodge the right side of the web, and move it as best I could to the other side of the doorway to allow myself access to the shed. Immediately, the spider scurried to the right side, and I’m sure if a spider could have given me an indignant look or a deep sigh of disbelief, I would have heard it. All its hard work gone in just a moment, and the poor thing had no idea why. It was not in any way aware that it had built its web in my pathway. “I’m sorry” I whispered in its direction, as if that would somehow ease its plight, or make it understand. I always use to knock down all the spider webs in my barn every few months until my vet pointed out to me one day that he always said he could tell if someone had a “healthy” barn, by its spider webs. He pointed out that you can tell whether or not you have ammonia build-up by the amount of webs near the lower parts of the walls. Besides, it’s free insect control. These days I do leave them up until they get really dusty, then knock them down so that the spiders will rebuild. They always do. I’m sure these spiders give me dirty looks as well when I do this.

As I came back around to the shed about an hour later, I paused again to watch the spider, already starting the painstaking process of rebuilding. It had built this beautiful web and, out of the blue, was forced to start all over again. Life seems to be that way too sometimes. Throughout our lives we spend a lot of time building and creating things and in the blink of an eye they can be destroyed or damaged. Sometimes it’s a job, or property, or sometimes intangible things like relationships. You can work on all these things very hard and for a long time, and they can become very beautiful, but sometimes when you  get them just the way you want them, for whatever reason, they get destroyed in a moment, and you have to start over. Most of the time it is not even our doing and is outside of our control.  It leaves us bewildered, just like this little orb spider.

As a child, I can remember a nursery rhyme my mother use to sing to me about a little spider. It had simple hand movements that went along with it, and an easy tune. I was taught this from a very early age, and it is my hope that it will continue being taught to every generation that follows! I still sing this song to myself whenever I am discouraged, and it never fails to lift my spirit back up again. It is my inner “theme song,” and although it is very simple, it holds a great truth for our lives.

The itsy bitsy spider went up the water spout.

Down came the rain, and washed the spider out.

Out came the sun, and dried up all the rain,

and the itsy bitsy spider went up the spout again.

I never realized it at the time, but it was actually a great song of hope, and a good lesson for all of us to carry on in our lives as adults. It is very appropriate to remember this lesson of persistence now, especially in these very hard times. Yes, sometimes life knocks us down but we must pick ourselves up, shake it off, and continue on enduring, no matter what…