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Finding Peace in the Web of Life

Finding Peace in the Web of Life

Finding Peace in the Web of Life

The early morning sun lit up the spider’s web and I watched the spider pull the slender threads of silk from its abdomen, then attach them to the octagonal frame it had already woven hanging from bush branches. Slowly, steadily, laboriously doing what spiders do, what spiders have done so precisely for 200 million years.

In those moments I stood enraptured, humbled, inspired, all the pieces of the larger web I’ve been entangled in – how to earn a living, and comfort a friend who’s dying, and show up in some meaningful way for Climate Day 2021 (October 23)  – all dissolved into a deep knowing that the sunlight and the spider and the bush and I were all connected in the web of life. The miracle and joy of that.

The same stream of life 

that runs through my veins night and day 

runs through the world 

and dances in rhythmic measures.  

It is the same life 

that shoots in joy 

through the dust of the earth 

in numberless blades of grass 

and breaks into tumultuous waves 

of leaves and flowers.  

It is the same life 

that is rocked in the ocean-cradle 

of birth and of death, in ebb and in flow.  

I feel my limbs are made glorious 

by the touch of this world of life.  

And my pride is from the life-throb of ages 

dancing in my blood this moment.

– Rabindranath Tagore

That afternoon I checked out Charlotte’s Web from the library. I don’t know how I had missed this perennial favorite of parents and children. Not in my childhood, not in my reading children’s books to take a break from dense psychology textbooks in graduate school, not in reading to my godson. (Harry Potter had taken over by then.)

And in that one afternoon I fell in love with Fern’s devotion, and then Wilbur’s devotion, and then Charlotte’s devotion and the web of care they wove with each other.

The suggestion of this post is to take a moment to notice the devotion that life itself has to its millions of forms and manifestations: the blades of grass pushing up through the concrete, the trail of ants across the driveway (well, even across the kitchen floor; still pretty miraculous), the bounding joy of a young puppy. And devotion to you, too.

I ask for a moment’s indulgence to sit by thy side. The works that I have in hand I will finish afterwards.

Away from the sight of thy face my heart knows no rest nor respite, and my work becomes an endless toil in a shoreless sea of told. 

Today the summer has come at my window with its sighs and murmurs, and the bees are plying their minstrelsy at the court of the flowering grove.

Now, it is time to sit quiet, face to face with thee, and to sing dedication of life in this silent and overflowing leisure. 

– Rabindranath Tagore

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