Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Hidden Majesty

Once upon a time, behind an ordinary house in an ordinary neighbourhood, there appeared an art installation of gasping wonder. 
High above an old wooden deck the piece spanned a metre of thin air. It was anchored by invisible guy wires attached to the leafy branches of a so-called “junk” Manitoba Maple tree. 

The exquisite weaving glistened silver in the morning light.  Its complexity was dazzling. 
Fine threads formed a delicate hexagonal plane that slowly undulated in the soft breeze. Dewy moisture lit each strand in hope that humanity might notice Nature’s impossible design.  

Two lucky people stood beneath, heads tipped back, eyes startled wide, hearts burning within them.  An hour later evaporation made the wild, wet web disappear. 

"You are worthy, our God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they exist. " 
Psalm 104

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Charlotte Strikes Again

Between my house and my neighbour’s there is only a narrow walkway. Every time I carry my gardening tools from the garage along this short route to the backyard, I get “pranked”. Apparently the small gap between buildings is an ideal span for stringing up a bug-trapping web; every single time, a cobweb catches me in the face. I frantically brush away the sticky gauze, hoping that the spider itself isn’t now lodged in my hair or clothing. It’s an unwelcome surprise but it always makes me laugh at myself. 
“Oh Charlotte, you got me again.” 

My perception of spiders changed after reading the touching children’s story, Charlotte’s Web. Since then I have looked at spiders fondly, even as I occasionally dispatch an unwelcome one in my basement. Sometimes my inner Buddhist can’t be bothered releasing anthropoid intruders outdoors. These spider mothers reproduce too prolifically to qualify as house pets.

In the story, a spider named Charlotte is a wise advisor and faithful coach for Wilbur, the doomed pig who shares her barn. She encourages him by spinning legible compliments like “Some Pig”, “Terrific”, “Radiant” and, finally, ”Humble”.
When her dying time nears, she teaches him that all life is bound to a cycle of birth and death. He must soon say goodbye to his beloved friend. Sob. The bittersweet story ends with Charlotte’s many babies newly born as spider friends for Wilbur.

Like Charlotte, my husband and I are well into our senior years; we need wisdom and encouragement for facing this stage of multiplying changes. We’re reading aloud an excellent book by Lewis Richmond, speaking of Buddhists, Aging as a Spiritual Practice.
In the same tone as the bible takes in its remarkable third chapter of the book called "Proverbs", Richmond reminds us that though we cannot control the changes life brings, we can rest in the fact that we are deeply and reliably loved. Although he is a self-proclaimed atheist he heard "someone" in his mind assuring him of this eternal truth.

If we can hang on through his described “lightening strikes”, learn to “accept” our current reality, and make the necessary “adaptations,” we can win through to  the peaceful and positive stage of “appreciation”. 

Christianity aligns here. As one church minister emphasized, it was neither Christ’s good works of justice and mercy nor his resurrection that best epitomized what God is like. When Jesus willingly surrendered to an agonizing execution, God's glory (essential nature) blazed the brightest. In his refusal to fight hatred with force, he showed God's limitless love for humanity. Even while asserting, "Don't you understand that I could have asked my Father to send armies of angels for help?" Jesus accepted God’s upside-down, counter-cultural way. 

Life's changes are part of a vast wind that cleans and refreshes. We can trust God that every loss is followed by new life, just down the way.
The next time we get a messy web in the face, may we wipe it off bravely and look forward to the better surprises ahead.