Tag Archives: small blessings

Out Came the Sun and Along Came a Spider

The sun came out yesterday for the first time in 9 days. It was delightful to be outdoors without enduring drizzle. And gray. And umbrellas. And sogginess. And shoes that are neither seasonal nor waterproof.

So, I did what everyone else was anxious to do – I took it outdoors to soak up the beautiful fall morning and went for a walk in the park. I had only been walking a few minutes, when I came across this.


Trust me when I tell you that the iphone camera does not take a picture that does it justice. Not in the least. This spider was one of the largest ones I have ever seen. And by ever, I mean ever. It was huge, bright, and colorful and it was in the middle of furiously weaving a masterpiece of a web that somehow spanned the entire width of the paved walking path. I stopped, stunned.  I was not really sure of how to react. I was totally taken aback and decided to take a picture to show the kids later in the day. I took several pictures and sighed in irritation and disappointment after previewing each one. Not one single photo could come close to capturing it. I marveled at what was in front of me, wondering if the spider had been waiting for the sun to come out too, held hostage like the sun and the rest of us the last week and a half.  I left the sprawling web and it’s weaver and continued on my walk, making another loop around the park green.

On my next lap around, I came upon two well dressed women sporting nicely appointed workout wear and surprisingly perfect make-up. I tugged on my worn t-shirt as I came up to them, conscious of my not so well appointed workout wear and complete lack of any make-up. They called out to me, “LOOK AT THIS!” But the look on their faces did not match the enthusiasm with which they spoke. “I know! So cool!,” I said, “I just walked by it a few minutes ago. Isn’t it amazing?” They both looked at me and said nothing. One woman cautiously stepped away as she spoke, “I think it’s got to be poisonous. Aren’t colorful spiders poisonous? It is just sooo big. They should not be that BIG! I hate spiders. They scare me half to death! And this one … just hanging there – out of nowhere! Let’s just go!,” she implored her friend. The other woman could not stop staring at the spider and it was hard to tell if she echoed the same fears as her friend. Finally speaking up, all she came up with was “that is soooo gross. Spiders are dis-gus-ting. Gives me the creeps.” I am sure I looked dumbstruck standing there, wondering if we were looking at the same thing. I was unsure of how to respond. Believe me, I am no fan of spiders,  but it was impossible to see this spider weaving the web and not be in awe. “Have a nice day” I called to their backs, still gazing at the spider, and tugging again at my shirt. But they had already resumed their own conversation and I am not even sure they heard me.

Again I made my way around the greenway, and as I circled around there was yet another woman stopped in the same spot, staring at the same spider and the web. She was an older woman with gray hair and kind blue eyes. Her cheeks were pink and flushed and she was slightly winded. As I approached and slowed near the web, she quietly said in a near whisper, as if being careful not to disturb the creature hard at work, “Can you believe this? It is absolutely amazing.” I smiled, grateful to not feel a little nutty for being in awe of a spider. “Yes,” I softly said, suddenly aware that I too was talking in a hushed tone, respectful of the astisan before us, “I just saw it a few moments ago. It’s amazing.” The woman wiped her nose with a tissue that she pulled from the cuffed sleeve of her light blue sweatshirt, the way my grandmothers have always done, making me somehow momentarily happy and homesick at the same time. She pointed to the spider. “Watch now,” she implored me, her hidden tissue poking out of the sleeve of her raised arm.  “See how quickly the web is spun, how the legs move so adeptly…so graceful,” she observed. “Yes, I see it now,” I whispered back to her, “you are right….I hadn’t noticed the way the legs moved before. Amazing!” She flashed me a wise, knowing smile as she stepped back to admire it from a different angle.

As we were both standing there in the path, gazing up towards the sky, we heard the quickened steps of a runner, rapidly approaching, crimson and amber leaves crushing under his feet. We moved to get out of his way, still staring at the wonder before us. The runner hastily nodded to us standing there looking into the trees, and blew right past us – intent on his mission, not even noticing the spider or the web that he nearly ran right through. The woman and I exchanged smiles again, moving to the center of the path left vacant by the runner. “Funny how some people are in such a hurry these days,” She started.  “Mmmmm,” I mumbled in agreement or maybe embarrassment,  as that could easily be me on most days.  Clearly not the running part, but certainly the hurried part. “They don’t see the tiny miracles God puts in front of their noses,” she continued, “even when they nearly run smack into them.  Oh well,” she wisely chuckled. “Yes, indeed,” came my quiet reply. We both turned to go. “Blessings on your day, Dear,” were her parting words. “You too,” I said, thankful yet again to be living in the south where people actually say things like that. And mean it.

As I wrapped up my walk, tangling Miss Muffet’s nursery rhyme with the itsy bitsy spider song in my head, I thought about what I had just seen and how truly amazing it was – the incredible spider, the intricate web, and getting to witness the fervent spinning in action. And I thought about the different reactions that everyone had to it. One was scared, one was less than enthused and turned away in disgust, one was in complete awe with gentle wisdom, and one was oblivious and didn’t even notice. On any given day, I could have had any one of those reactions.  I was in a place to be humbled as I watched the spider – to see and admire the “tiny miracle” as the wise lady named it. But heaven knows there are days when I come across gifts and blessings strewn brightly and in color and placed perfectly in my path and I don’t even see them, or am scared to acknowledge them, or turn away from them without interest –  precisely as those in my path did yesterday.

So, as the story goes (or is it the song?)  out came the sun, and along came the spider.  And I was simply grateful to see them both.





Some Days Are Not So Rosy

It was raining this morning. It was grey and warm and depressing. It wasn’t even a good cold rain that makes you want to snuggle in and cozy up. It was too wet to walk the dog, but not raining enough to help the stressed lawn, tired and hanging on. The kids crabbily went about morning routines and I was irritable. We left the house late, drove behind slow school buses, and hit nearly every red light. I returned home from dropping them at school only to find not one, but two forgotten lunch boxes on the kitchen counter. So, off I went back to school, driving the repetitive loop that is responsible for most of the miles on my car. Once home I began to tackle the never ending laundry, deciding to ignore the fact that the washing machine sounds like a jet engine. An ominous sound I imagine equates to a costly repair. Towels billowed from the the dryer and out fell a renegade ink pen along with permanent black smudges that claimed white shirts. Ruined. I slammed the dryer shut.

Quite the start to the day. I debated joining Alexander in Australia so we could commiserate on our very bad, horrible no good days.

Returning downstairs, I rolled my eyes at the miscellaneous items left to be soaked in the rain on the back deck. I over-exaggerated a heavy sigh at the sight of every single dead plant that lies ugly and lifeless in window boxes and clay pots on the deck. I turned my back from the outdoor despair to clear a few juice glasses and crumpled, soiled napkins that others carelessly left behind – pondering again the martyr notion that all I do is pick up after other people.

It was then that I saw it. In the middle of my pathetic stroll down victim lane. A gentle whisper from the Holy Spirit to look beyond this spiraling dark place. There, across the littered table, beyond the window smudged with fingerprints and the dirty screen, hung a single, perfect yellow rose.

It was hanging from the climbing rose bush Jason planted a few years ago. He planted it on a slope in the back yard so that as it grew and bloomed the lovely flowers would be at eye level. The beauty planted purposely, intentionally for me to see. It showers us with beautiful flowers when in season. But the season was long over. Did he know one day a single glance at a single bloom would change my day? Would change me on that day, for the better? He very well may have. He knows me that well.

I stood still and stared at the rose in near disbelief. Everything in the yard was brown and dead. Everything. And outside it was dreary, wet, and depressingly grey. And there, right in front me, was a beautiful sign of life and beauty and promise. A perfect and unexpected stroke of yellow light and happiness. It stopped me in my tracks. I smiled and my eyes stung with humility and contrition. I went to grab my phone so I could have proof of my find. And in doing so, I found a note on a hot pink sticky pad. It was scrawled with “have a good day mom! I love you!” My heart raced and the room tilted. Was this neon note here all along?! Did I just miss the glaring message in my grumpy haste this morning? What else have I missed today?! What else has passed me by? What a waste of a morning. I was so quick to be pulled into a downward spiral of negativity. The more I noticed the bad things, the quicker they fell into my path – as if being sought and collected, a litany of meaningless woes.

And then it dawned on me (yet again) that blessings abound when I am willing to see them. How many times need I be reminded of that? If I can only get out of my own way and greet the day with gratitude, amazing things are meant to be seen and experienced. I remain convinced that often the greatest joys come from seeing gift and beauty in the littlest of things that are all too often so irreverently overlooked. Climbing yellow roses and notes left on shocking pink sticky pads, no exception.

I returned to the laundry room and fed a smelly green football uniform into the open mouth of the jet-engine washing machine. Only this time I was grateful that she could work her magic, no matter the dooming noise. I shut the dryer door more gently. My steps and heart were softened as I came downstairs for another Doubting Thomas look at the rose. Still there. And the sun just might have been trying to come through the heavy clouds as well.

I smiled at nothing and everything in the middle of my messy kitchen.

I am certain that while we were never promised rosy days, God gives us more than enough roses in our paths. Sometimes they miraculously come out of nowhere, unexpectedly. And sometimes they are there all along. Regardless, joy and peace and happiness are ours to have if we are only willing to stop and see them.