Do you know how long it takes a spider to spin a web? I can tell you exactly how long: one hour and fifteen minutes. That how long it took the Lunch Spider to do it.
On nice days I like to have to my mom over for lunch out on the deck. So even though it is late September I invite my mom for lunch. As I pull into the driveway I remind her that since it’s a weekday, Wes won’t be there.
She smiles and says, “I am so lucky to have such a sweet, sweet, son-in-law. He is wonderful. (pause) My daughter—meh.” I ignore this because I know that people wound us out of their own pain. I also know that if I say anything she will just blow me off and say, “I was just needling you.”
I have a fantasy where I take a real needle and poke her arm. She would say, “Ow!” And then I would laugh and say, “Oh, c’mon! I was just needling you.” Like I said, we wound one another out of our own pain.
The umbrella table is set with place mats and cloth napkins. Along with some French rolls, I serve a ratatouille. It’s very still and because it’s hot and near noon, even the birds are silent. Since we are eating ratatouille you can’t even hear us chewing. Mom says, “It’s peaceful. I like it out here because it’s quiet.” She emphasizes that word just like she always did when I was growing up. Because I was never one for quiet. Or stillness.
So here we are out on the deck eating quietly. Mom is no longer much of a conversationalist although some days are better than others. I find it exhausting to keep a conversation going with her, so I just eat.
She eats a few spoonfuls of the ratatouille and then nibbles on her roll. Compared to her, I eat like Labrador retriever. She is so slow—and she has all her teeth! I have a million things to do: pack for a trip, clean the bathroom, go to the library, water the garden. I try not to drum my fingers on the table. I have to take deep breaths and force myself to relax which is a total contradiction. Isn’t forcing the opposite of relaxing?
I am thinking all this when suddenly a spider drops down right in front of us. She is hanging from the table umbrella. Oh, thank God—something to talk about! At first we cannot figure out what she is doing. She swings from the umbrella, and the breeze blows her to a long-stemmed rose then over to the chair, then to the table.
Mom loves watching this. As an artist she appreciates seeing a creator at work. We both start a little commentary.
“Oops, going down!”
“Now she’s just showing off.”
“Back to the rose!”
It takes some convincing to get Mom to call the spider “she.” Perhaps it’s generational, but everything to her is a “he.” I finally Google it and read to her how generally it’s the female spider who spins the web. So now she refers to the spider as “she” but I can tell she feels awkward saying it.
After a while we start questioning the spider’s activities. What is she doing? It’s so random. It makes no sense! Just up and down from place to place: umbrella, rose, chair, table, umbrella.
Mom and I look at each other and shake our heads. I take a bite of her roll. “Finish it,” she says. Again, something she said a lot when I was growing up. I finish the roll, stand up, start to clear the table, and sneak one more glance at the Lunch Spider. I drop to my seat. Suddenly her plan comes into focus. None of her work was random, for now she is speedily building what is obviously a beautiful web.
What she had been doing was finding her anchors: umbrella, rose, chair, table. Once she did that, it was easy for her to build. We sit for another thirty minutes watching her go round and round—without a sound. Neither of us speak because it doesn’t seem right to talk.
When I return Mom to her retirement community she hugs me and says, “I really enjoyed myself! Just chit-chatting.” She smacks her walker. “And watching that crazy spider!”
“I know why you liked that spider,” I say. “Because she was quiet.” She laughs and nods.
As I drive home I think about the spider’s anchors and I think about my own. For sure I anchor my life as a follower of Jesus. And there are some particular scriptural anchors:
John 1:5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
I remind myself of this when things seem dire or hopeless. I deeply believe it and also believe that sometimes we have to look for the Light and other times we have to be the Light.
Psalm 23 The Lord is my shepherd.
This verse anchors me when I don’t know where to turn or the human counsel I’m receiving is not adequate. Why am I looking to others to guide me? The Lord is my shepherd! Duh.
Finally, oh, yawn, it’s the Love Chapter you hear at almost every wedding. This is why I love “The Message” translation—it wakes me up.
I Corinthians 3–7.
If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
If we take those verses deep into our hearts, we will have the best anchors EVER from which to build our lives. As the Lunch Spider demonstrated, once you have your supports, you can create a most beautiful web.
When I got home I checked on the spider and was thrilled to see that she was having a lunch of her own.