The Life of a Spider

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I have not posted of late, largely because of obligations to family and community (and sleep deprivation), but I thought that the following anecdote was worthy to relate.

I was cooking dinner and decided that I needed a lemon. I have a lemon tree in my back yard, but I needed a ladder to get to a ripe one. As I was going for the ladder, I heard Hephaestos.

“Be careful of the spider!” He shouted.

“Oh?” I asked, “Is it a poisonous spider that might harm me, or are you concerned that I will harm the spider?”

“It’s the spider I’m worried about. Take a look.”

I looked and saw the tiniest speck of a white spider on my ladder.

“Prolific little thing for something the size of a mote of dust,” I commented, looking at all the webs on the top few rungs. “Is there another spider, or just the one?”

“Just the one,” said Hephaestos. “Get the straw besom. If you very carefully sweep him up, he’ll run up into the bristles, and he’ll be safe. Spiders are crafty little fellows. But he’s so small. If you accidentally stepped on him, or even steadied your weight with your hand in the wrong place, he’d be dead for sure.”

I did as he asked, and ever so carefully and gently swept up the spider with the straw broom. He skittered up the bristles and was gone.

As I dragged the ladder over, Hephaestos clarified. “A spider like that doesn’t live long. His minutes are like your days. His hours are like your seasons. A single day is like a decade to him. Because his life is ever so brief, every second counts. And his minutes are more full of adventures than you could possibly imagine.”

And I nodded, thinking to myself how very profound it was for an ancient deity to care about so tiny a life. Perhaps because that particular spider was so proficient with his webs, or perhaps because spiders are sacred to Hephaestos.

Later, as I was cooking, he asked me, “have you eaten anything but bread today?”

Reflexively, I said, “Ah, don’t worry about me, Hephaistos. I’m a creature of a day. Blink, and I’ll be gone.”

“Just a moment ago, I expressed concern for a tiny spider, and you thought that it was noble. Don’t you dare chide me for expressing concern for a human, whose life is so much longer, and so much more artistically prolific.”

2 comments

  1. He’s right – self care is important. Who’ll save the next spider if you aren’t there when you need to be?

  2. I have had the same intuition.

    That a spider or ladybug or fly is so much smaller than me.

    And there may be a being as big to me as I am to that spider.

    And that greater being may see me being kind to the lesser being, despite its lesserness.

    And follow in my example.

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