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Regular readers will remember my obsession with the spiders that inhabit the windowsill of my bathroom during the summer months. Every year, three Charlottes set up shop: One in each corner and one under the window handle. And every year, I wonder about interfering in their lives.

I’m a neat freak. It makes me uncomfortable to allow spiders to just hang out and do their thing, littering the sill with the corpses of their prey. On the other hand, I’m not fond of any creepy-crawlies, and the spiders keep those to a minimum by ensnaring them upon entrance to the house. I generally live and let live. And then came the conundrum known as Big Boris.

Boris, another spider, but perhaps 20 times the size of the petite Charlottes, made his entrance several weeks ago, positioning himself above the web of the spider in the left-hand corner. I felt that a takeover was imminent. Always one to root for the “little guy” (or girl), I thought about eliminating Boris before he could do any harm.

But I’d completely misread the situation. Boris disappeared one morning, leaving several limbs behind. How had the threat been neutralized? I’ll never know. Apparently, left-corner spider was tougher than I thought.

And then I realized, “If I don’t know enough to stay out of the business of spiders, what right do I have to question God on how Godself handles the affairs of this world?” Yes, it can be easy to look around and think that God somehow misunderstands what we need…or is too busy to care. That is a fundamental misunderstanding of the situation. Just as those spiders don’t need me to interfere, God does not need my opinion on how the world ought to work. All I’m seeing are the Big Borises. God sees the much, much bigger picture. God is on top of things, no matter how it might look to us, busily building our own little webs.

Since the Boris incident, the spiders have abandoned their webs. Perhaps it got too hot on the ledge. Today I gently wiped down the window frame. But I left a few strands of webbing, just in case. Life will go on, as God in God’s wisdom sees that it should. It’s God’s plan, not mine, and I’m okay with that.



When I was a kid, I lived in a colorful neighborhood. Take, for instance, our down-the-street neighbors. While not exactly bona fide hippies, they certainly bordered on “crunchy.” They refused to cut their lawn, to the eternal perturbation of the rest of the street, and to call their house an eyesore would be a denigration to ocular wounds.

Still, their daughter was in my class at school, so on one memorable occasion, I was forced to enter their domicile. It was then I learned that they kept spiders as pets. Not tarantulas, mind you, just ordinary, run-of-the-mill house spiders. In fact, they would not kill any creature that entered their home, and I suspect there were more than a few present.

Which brings me to my present quandary. There are two spiders living on my bathroom windowsill. Now, I’m not one of those people who falls to pieces at the sight of an arachnid. But I wouldn’t say I endorse their presence wholeheartedly, either. Yet I let these spiders live, partly because I don’t know what else to do.

The drought hereabouts has somehow caused a rampant uptick in the number of mosquitoes. I know, it sounds like backwards thinking, but when your rivers have turned to stagnant pools, mosquitoes come and mosquitoes stay. And I’m allergic to the little buggers. So the spiders on the windowsill and I have forged an uneasy truce: They can stay as long as they catch the even less-desirable trespassers, particularly mosquitoes. We forged a partnership — okay girls, all ten arms in…and break!

The whole situation’s got me thinking. Who am I to decide what lives and what dies — and yet I do it every day. Even as I live in uneasy alliance with the spiders, I have no trouble at all crushing other errant invaders, including other spiders. Two on the windowsill, fine. But one next to my hairspray? It’s squishing time!

I am aware that this may not be what is considered living in right relationship with all other living beings. God gave humans mastery over all creatures great and small, but in doing so, He expects us to follow His lead — to be protectors, to be caretakers…to serve, not command. But where does one draw the line? Must we live in buggy squalor, like my former neighbors, or do we have the right to say, “No. This is my home”? And how far does that sense of home extend — to our property line, our country, our universe? Is it okay to eradicate cockroaches but not okay to eradicate Indian rhinos? Who decides?

And so the cohabitation continues. One of these days, I will terminate the spiders’ tenancy. But I will feel bad about it. After all, what have I contributed to the world? At least the spiders kept their corner of the world in balance. Perhaps I should focus on doing the same.


Have a Mary Little Christmas

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