I like spiders. I’m fascinated by them. Even the big wolf spiders that somehow get in the house to torment the cats are intriguing to me. I will catch them – sometimes with, or better yet, a jar – study them a bit, then release them out into the wild. I’m glad they are in the gardens since they eat many of the bugs I don’t like. Maybe I like spiders because of Charlotte’s Web; I don’t know. I certainly didn’t get my benevolence towards them from Dad who will squish them in a heartbeat!
The tiny spider webs that are attached to the weeds by the side of the road are back. I always notice them on a misty day and they remind me of a time early in Mom’s dementia. Although it was a difficult time, they always bring me hope.
In 2008 or 2009, I was traveling to Mom’s one day and dealing with the weight of her decline. At the time, I was staying with Mom on Monday and Thursday mornings. I had three children – 9, 12 and 13 – a church job, about twenty-three piano and voice students, and was working at a college. I was completely overwhelmed and knew this was only the beginning of how Mom would need me. Since I am the only one of my siblings who lives nearby, I knew I would be the primary one to help Dad with her care. We didn’t have any other caregivers at that point so it was just the two of us.
On that particular morning, I was falling apart. I don’t know exactly what was on my plate that day, but managing my time was increasingly difficult. I was drowning and just burst into tears on the drive to Mom’s. I pulled over on the shoulder of the road, put my head on the steering wheel, and wept.
I cried until I was cried out. I got out of the car and walked in the grasses by the road while I tried to get my breath and dry my eyes. It was a cool, misty morning and my shoes were getting soaked; then I saw the webs. The sun was starting to come out just a bit and the dew cover looked like diamonds on little crystal strands. I don’t remember ever noticing them before, but on that morning, they were jewels. I walked slowly up to one web to see if I could see the spider owner. I crouched down and waited, but he/she never came out.
As I was waiting, I felt God’s protection wash all over me. There wasn’t an audible voice or a physical touch. There was a feeling, a calmness that wrapped me up like being encased in a loving cocoon sparkling with diamonds with crystal strands. For a moment, I glimpsed a fleeting image of heaven and put aside the dinginess of this life.
There’s something magical about moments when God breaks through our mundane and sadness. I will never forget that moment.
Of course, Mom wasn’t healed right then. All of the stress didn’t miraculously leave my life. However, without any effort from me, things looked different. Things were different. I was different.
I stood and walked through the wet grass and climbed back in the car and drove to Mom’s. I don’t remember what we did that day – shopping and eating out were our favorite things to do together back then – but I do know my load was lighter.
Every time I’ve noticed the tiny webs since then, I’ve been reminded of that moment when God broke through time and space to reach me. For a singular moment, this crazy, stressful world disappeared completely. I’ve never called it a vision, but it was a kind of other-worldly feeling. Like a picture in Magic Eye which looks like a blob of color until you focus your eyes just right and the hidden picture comes into view, I saw a clearer picture of what is real and true.
God can use anything to reach us – even a lowly spider’s web.