My Road—Life Net
Our internet may be off, but life’s-net is still very much on.
After a chilly night in the 40s F and a bracing breakfast of eggs, toast, hashbrowns, and coffee with my oh-so-grown-up kids, I figured that since online work was impossible, I’d take a morning stroll and enjoy autumn’s coolness and color.
By chance, I stopped on the creek bank where our old plank bridge used to span the main property with the hillside. The poor bridge is now crooked and broken. A large tree on the western edge fell a couple of years ago, the bank gave way, and the tree’s roots slid to the eastern side. A strange phenomenon, but I guess a tree with snapped roots is apt to do anything.
Standing there with the sun rising in the east, wildflowers waving on both sides of the creek, and our smallest pup exploring the wilds of unrestrained foliage, I basked in the sun rays as they highlighted particular branches, noticing with wonder the perfection of everything before my eyes.
Though I am no carpenter and about the furthest thing from an engineer imaginable, I can still appreciate feats of architectural genius when I see them. How could tiny spiders manage to spin webs from the tops of giant trees and connect them in a dizzying array, from reedy weeds to shelf mushrooms and all points in between? Even with an instruction booklet, tools at the ready, and supportive encouragement, I’m lucky if I can put a simple desk together. So far as I know, spiders haven’t learned to read, obtained the use of hammer and nails, screws, or even duct tape, and I’ve yet to encounter a spider cheering section.
I stood on the bank for some minutes, praying my morning prayers in rote recitation—as my senses were filled with the glory of God’s creation, which spoke more forcefully to my soul than any memorized text ever could.
And then it happened.
Sunbeams broke through the line of trees on the edge of the property and raced across the creek, revealing to my wondering eyes the largest, most perfect spider web I have ever seen. It looked very much like something from outer space, the circular rings spinning downward to a tiny basket, where a small black spider reposed, probably a bit smug from his brilliant achievement. And it was brilliant. As the rays highlighted the scene, a hidden world was revealed. Tiny flying insects darted about on important business, uncountable web strands hung from every branch, twig, and leaf, rich greens, yellows, reds, oranges, and even brown-spotted mushrooms grew like enchanted water basins up the old tree trunk, every bit of nature pulsing with vibrant life.
For those moments, I saw the world as it really was. At least, as a small parcel of it truly was on a perfect autumn morning. Once the sun rose higher, a shadow fell, and the entire scene retreated into the mundane beauty of an average day.
I had made plans, but few of them materialized. Good things happened—a room was cleaned, windows washed, bread baked, and dinner prepared—and not-so-good things happened—calls and messages missed, work delayed, and tasks left uncompleted—but my thoughts continually returned to the hidden world on the edge of our creek bank on that cold autumn morning.
How much do I not see on any given day? If I had merely recited my usual prayers and moved on, I would never have lived God’s Creation prayer when it was offered, right there in front of me.
If I had sulked about all the things I could not do, my daughter and I would have missed the grand time we spent together cleaning and chatting with unhurried ease. If I had raced off to some internet-connected town in order to accomplish my day’s prearranged goals, I would’ve missed my 4th daughter’s hint to bake bread, and our delicious dinner would have missed a key element tonight.
Life is an amazingly unpredictable, unfolding event. Despite my attachment to the internet, I am grateful that there are times when I’m forced to disconnect. For there is a life-net just waiting for me—if I stand on the creek bank and appreciate what is revealed.