Along Came a Spider
I needed a broom. Again. After cleaning and packing all day, I walked out on the front porch, only to find massive cobwebs stretched across the railings. I grabbed the broom and got ready to take a whack. But then I saw her. Right in the middle of the ‘cobwebs’ was a spider the size of my hand. Her body was a dusky blue with gold iridescent spots on it; her legs were black, shiny and graceful. Then I noticed her web: an intricate, stunning, carefully-woven web. As I looked at each delicate thread and how it was connected to another, I wondered, How did you build this beautiful web? After several minutes, my focus shifted to the background. My home. My pretty yard with the tanget and palm trees. Extending beyond, I could see tiny grass huts scattered throughout the 10,000-foot mountains that rise up out of the Goroka valley. My mountains. I love them. They always remind me of the faithfulness of God—strong and present and immovable.
After sitting there awhile, I decided to let my spider be. She seemed to have earned a right to be there, and I could clean my house around her. Anyway, it would be fun to show her to the boys, who would be home from school soon. In two weeks, we would board a plane for Seattle, Washington—our other home, which we had not seen for four years. We were excited to go home, no question. Certainly for my husband and me, America is our home. Even our boys, who mostly have only known New Guinea as their home, were excited to go to America for a year. To them, it was an adventure. They were anxious to try snowboarding, eat hot dogs, and go to a Mariners baseball game. My husband and I were mostly excited to see friends and family again. Still, for me, there was a sadness in it all. Going home meant leaving home. As a mother, a wife, and a woman, it is always so hard for me. I find that my tendency is to want to rest in my nest, not disrupt the entire process. My initial response—always—oh God, surely, I cannot move again!
That spider became a source of entertainment for our family. We began to spend all our free time sitting on the porch enjoying our new pet. We started to feed her with moths. Our neighbors would walk by laughing at our family, once again sitting on the front porch enjoying this creature that never ceased to amaze us. Often we would videotape her, as if she were one of the family. We developed a concern for her welfare. When it was raining hard, we would run out to see if she was OK—she always was.
After our first two days with her, I noticed holes in her web. Later that night, as I checked on her, I was shocked to see that she was tearing apart her web, rolling it up like a yarn ball. I was surprised by the sadness I felt as I thought about her leaving us. The next morning, expecting to find her gone with no remains, I was met by another wonder. She had indeed destroyed her entire web, but she had miraculously rebuilt the web all over again. It was perfect. Over the remaining two weeks, she did this repeatedly about every two or three days!
She became known to us as Charlotte, of course. She was clearly a woman, for only a woman would take care of her home like that. Remember that Charlotte from the E.B. White story had a web that produced miracles; hers, with the words, ‘some pig.’ My Charlotte’s web did not have words in it, but her web still produced a miracle. It spoke volumes to me about the love of my heavenly Father. She showed me every day how to take apart a home and rebuild it.
A month after we returned to America, we received an email from the family who moved into our home when we left: Charlotte had disappeared. They did not seem to mind, but our family mourned her loss. I, especially, cried sweet tears of both grief and joy, as I considered how faithfully God had moved us across the ocean, once again, and set us up in a new place. Charlotte had shown me how to do what God invites us to do every day—worship Him in the midst of our circumstances, because He is enough every step of the way, and He will enable me to do whatever He leads me to do so that I can fulfill my God-given destiny.