When it was announced the other day that I was due to become the new "webweaver" for my province's website, one of my sisters asked if this meant I was going to become a little spider! I replied that being a spider could be fun (daily activities: hanging around, looping the loop and terrifying humans just by one's very presence), but I didn't like the idea of being thumped and squashed to death.

Equating spider-hood with fun evoked a very strong memory of something that happened during my retreat last autumn. I was staying near Brecon, Wales, where the weather was mostly sunny and reasonably mild. One night, however, was very cold, and the following morning I woke up to mistiness and frost. My first impulse was to grab my camera and photograph the aqueous sun emerging through the mist. But then I began to look around, and, just about everywhere, clearly illuminated by glittering hoarfrost, were spiders' webs...

It was as if, whilst we all slept, there had been an overnight spiders' convention, featuring webweaving displays and competitions; as if each delegate had found a spot in which to spend all night looping loops, swinging crazily and weaving intricate patterns. I could imagine them all executing double back flips, practising new moves, or simply swirling about having fun, whooping and whee-ing with joy! And then, in the morning, exhausted by their efforts, slinking off for a good rest, leaving their handiwork behind, each web as distinctively different as a graffiti artist's tag.

Everywhere I looked, a web peeped back at me, and, as the sun increased in strength, so their frosty beauty was transformed into glittering jewels. Every possible branch and crossbeam seemed to be festooned and be-jewelled, often extravagantly. What a difference a frosty night can make to how we see the world!

Lovers of childrens' fiction will know that no fantasy can last forever. The snowman melts; Narnia vanishes into a mass of fur coats; Wonderland was just a dream... And so, as the sun shone brighter, the hoarfrost melted, and the webs became harder and harder to see. In the end, even close up, they were virtually invisible... my little webweaving wonderland had disappeared... I knew the webs were still there, and would remain, unseen and un-enjoyed, so, even as I enjoyed the sun warming the day, I felt a certain wistfulness and regret...

There is a PS to this story. That evening, while I was sharing the day with my retreat director, and recounting all this in particular, she commented on the vividness of my description, and asked if I had written it down (I hadn't). We talked some more about my abillty to write, and this became one of the pivotal factors that eventually stirred me into blogging. So I definitely retain a soft spot for overnight spider olympics!


  1. 13 years back I was watching a spider weave the web in my garden, that was the first and the last time I got the opportunity to watch the spider weave the web from beginning to the end. Quite interesting and makes one reflect on the wonder of God's creation, they work hard and concientiously to earn their daily bread. I am glad you have been chosen to weave the web, which will give spiritual nourishment (prey) to your sisters and all those who read and will read your blogs. Auxilia Rayan -Forest Gate London


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