She does not play small, why should I?

“Which causes me to wonder, my own purpose on so many days as humble as the spider’s, what is beautiful that I make? What is elegant? What feeds the world?”

— Louise Erdrich, The Painted Drum

• • •

Orb Weaver. Doesn’t that conjure up an image of some great goddess weaving planetary trajectories through the paths of comets and falling stars?

She may as well be a goddess, this nimble and beautiful Orb weaver spider who marks times outside my bedroom window. Like Arachne of Greek myth, she weaves her magic in gestures more remarkable than Athena. Each night, offering up the gift of a newly constructed, perfectly elaborate orb-shaped web from which she gets her name.

I’ve watched for her weeks now, my lovely Orb weaver. During the day, she wraps herself into a corner of the window and rests out the sun. As shadows fall, she positions herself in the center of the web and waits with great and unmoving patience. Is she meditating, I wonder, as I pass her on my way to sleep. By morning, she is resting again, a new web sparkling in the morning sun.

This fascination is new for me—this great and unmoving observance. Fear has always gotten in the way. Fear, and a giant wad of paper towels!

But fear has a way of keeping us from things—new discoveries, new adventures, new connections. So, I’ve been pushing at its boundaries…with spiders. And elsewhere.

“Spider teaches you that everything you now do is weaving what you will encounter in the future,” writes Ted Andrews in Animal-Speak. “Spider reminds us that the world is woven around us. We are the keepers and the writers of our own destiny, weaving it like a web by our thoughts, feelings, and actions.”

“Let your light shine,” a friend keeps encouraging me. We are talking about being our authentic selves—being as great as we are, with no excuses.

It’s a bigger hat than I’m used to wearing. Like watching spiders—I do it tentatively.

He reminds me of a speech by Nelson Mandella, who quotes this passage from Mairanne Williamson’s book A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of a Course in Miracles:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

As we are liberated from our fear…of spiders? I think I will start there.

“If spider has come into your life,” advises Ted Andrews, “ask yourself some important questions. Are you not weaving your dreams and imaginings into reality? Are you not using your creative opportunities? Are you feeling closed in or stuck as if in a web? Do you need to pay attention to your balance and where you are walking in life?”

• • •

Photo ©2011, by Jen Payne.

See these related links:
Orb Weaver Spider
Arachne
Animal-Speak, Ted Andrews
Mairanne Williamson

12 thoughts on “She does not play small, why should I?

  1. spider brings us lessons of wisdom and beauty. She is the most fascinating of creatures and with patience and grace spins her web. On some mornings you can see the dew drops, like diamonds, on her creation. You too, can create that which will capture diamonds for all to see.
    walk in beauty.

  2. i have seen her resting – and out on her web high up on the second floor – she is lovely (for a spider, that is) and i’m glad you have made (a little) peace with the 8-legged ones!

  3. My admiration is boundless!
    I love that speech you quote (I didn’t remember it as being either Mandela or M. Williamson, so thanks for finding it again for me) and I do believe it.
    But my light still shines a little less brightly, because no way can I abide your lovely almost-Goddess Weaver. I even avert my gaze from the photo —
    *Head hanging*
    A task awaiting my next life, I guess —
    But I say a heartfelt hurray for you!

    1. No head hanging. We all face our fears or obstacles in our own time! This was has taken years of patience co-existence and observation. Now I see. Now I see her as part of everything – the path I walk on, the trees I touch, the flowers and plants I enthusiastically share here. I can no more harm her than I could harm any of that!

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