Web Lessons

A poetic reflection reminiscent of a conversation with a friend, Graham Duncan, on a Sunday morning some months ago as we stood on the porch of the Parish House of Epiphany Episcopal Church, Laurens, SC, mesmerized by a spider “kiting” in the breeze.

spider web

I behold the spider’s web
intricately detailed,
finely spun;
a work of natural art.

How, I wondered, did…could the spider
fashion this masterpiece
spread o’er so vast a space?

I considered the question
without answer;
being about a matter
I simply could not…would never know.

Then, one day, quite by the Spirit of nature’s chance,
I glanced at a spider at the beginning of her work;
one end of the silken thread of what would become her web
attached to a single branch of a tree
and she,
lighter than air,
patiently waiting,
‘til the breeze blew
and she,
spinning more thread,
followed (allowed) the course of the wind
to carry her “kiting” to another branch cubits away.

And there she stayed
only for the twinkling it took
to attach the thread,
and then to repeat her course back again,
and then to and fro again and again,
and then round-and-around again and again
‘til in the when of an instant
(the present-time end of an eternity
of countless centuries of imbedded memory)
she had created her chef-d’oeuvre…

One that (at the buffeting of a greater zephyr
or the errant path of an oncoming heedless human)
would shred;
leaving her to begin anew.

And so, I watched and learned these lessons from her world-wide-web:

1. To marshal the might
of the gifts and graces in my possession,
using them for the purposes for which they were made and given;
not wishing for more or less
or, as I might covet, better or best,
but rather being satisfied, aye, blessed
with what I have.

2. To wait with patience
for the movement of forces
that is, outside of mine control;
trusting that such forces exist
and prevail
and when they blow
to prevail upon them
to employ with perseverance the gifts and graces I have been given.

3. To hope not, even more, to want not, still more, to believe not
in the permanence of anything I hath wrought.

For all my doing can be undone by forces –
of chance,
of circumstance,
yea, even by others’ choices –
greater than I,
and, aye,
for eternity is beyond the measure
of anything I can command;
for all I do command is measured,
thus, perforce excludes immortality.

4. To know, to accept that all that I have and all that I am
one day will pass,
and in such knowledge and acceptance
to do and to be
all that I am and can be in this moment’s time.


4 thoughts on “Web Lessons

  1. This beautiful observation makes me smile so broadly and makes my heart rejoice at the depth of the perception required to produce it. Such a beautiful commentary on human creatureliness, but also human capacity for understanding – dare I say it? – the web of all life, unity, and eternity, a foretaste of the transcendence of which, I believe, we are not only capable but which, I believe, is our ultimate destiny.

    This poem calls from me the affirmation, the exclamation, the exultation: “Some poet!” With both gratitude and a somewhat sheepish apology to E.B. White and Charlotte. : )

    Thank you, Paul. This completed an already rather lovely evening.

    Much love,



  2. Paul,

    Like Karen I absolutely LOVE this!! I had to smile too…. because over the past few years especially I’ve watched at marveled at several spiders building their webs while on my camping adventures!!

    I LOVE the three lessons you learned from observing the spider create her web…. and I’ll add to your reflection…For me, all the work that it takes a spider to build that web reflects on the time and effort it takes for us to build relationships that tie us all together. We weave in and out of our daily tasks, but to have a meaningful life… we have to willing be tied into relationships with others so that all of our “webs” can be full and complete in its beauty and complexity…each of us add strands throughout the web that holds it together even when the wind blows hard at times.

    I’d add that the web that you, me and Karen has spun through your blog is pretty special indeed.

    Much love!!


    1. Amen, Loretta! I love your point about relationships, and agree with you wholeheartedly about the web we’ve been building!



      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ah, my dearest sisters, you two are too kind to me. Thank you. I am happy you like this poem.

    Moreover, your observations, Karen, about the transcendence we are destined to partake/share and, Loretta, about our relationships and how we, each and all, take part in building the web (I think of the words of that hymn, “Bless be the tie that binds our hearts in Jesus’ love) are wonderful.

    And, in your observations/comments, you remind me anew that what precipitated your responses, in this case, this poem, is not as important as your ruminations, both in the birth of them in your consciousnesses and in your sharing them. Wonderful.

    And, on my immediate reflection spurred by your comments, it is clear to me that this poem, which envelopes the ideas of patience and persistence, was the fruit of my recent sowing of the seeds of wonderment about life and death and darkness. In this, I continue to return and ruminate on the deaths of Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdain, and others, whether well known or less well known, to suicide. I continue to ponder about what may potentially be (or have been for those who ended their lives) the missing ingredients from the web of life of a deep-rooted, abiding, and necessary sense of belonging and meaningfulness. I think especially of the latter. For, it seems to me that if or when I believe my life is meaningless, that is, that it…that I don’t matter, whether for good or ill, then my hold on this world lessens, weakens, perhaps disappears, thus, making suicide, if not a pleasant or reasonable option, then a workable choice.

    Again, my thanks to you for, as you say, Loretta, for sharing in this our cyberspace community of collegiality.

    Love you,


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