The Gods & the Spider Under the Glass


In an effort to understand the mischievous divine beings that appear to cut in and out of our reality as in an Edwin A. Abbott tale, of late, I find myself weighing various human experiences, curious for any shadowy analogy that may emerge.


Some see Christ in a piece of burnt toast. These days, I see the gods in creatures with the mysterious symmetry of eight legs and eight eyes. I also see the prankish and troublesome divine in ceiling fans and floral ceiling murals—but that is a post for another day.


Yesterday, I spied a tiny jumping spider upon my kitchen counter. It appeared to be waiting to see if some human would come along and prepare for it a fly soufflé.


I did not have my chef’s hat with me at the time, but I did have within arm’s reach a cube-shaped magnifying glass. The 1×1-inch cube serves as a sort of holding area, by which one can contain something rather smallish to a flat surface, and venture a closer peek.


This I did. The spider jumped about from acrylic wall to acrylic wall, trying to escape, and when it paused, I examined its intricate, miniature design. I could see its little spiky hairs; I could make out its eyes. I could even see it scratch its head (cephalothorax?) with a front leg, as if it were considering its odd predicament: something invisible was preventing it from hopping away from the colossal eyeball hovering over him.


I intended the magnificent creature no harm, I assure you.


In fact, I called over my 13-year-old daughter for a look at one of the wonders of evolution and natural selection. My daughter had no idea what was under the cube, and she bent down for a closer look. Then screamed: “Oh my God! It’s a spider!”


I agreed. “Amazing, isn’t it?”


“No, it’s awful! Get rid of it!”


I assured her of its harmlessness, and lifted the cube. As a compromise between my affrighted scion and Mother Nature, I had every intention of grabbing a napkin and carefully placing the little being outside onto my porch.


However, I was bested by the more swift, fight-or-flight reflexes of the next generation. My daughter grabbed said napkin and proceeded to squish the tiny little thing, dropped the napkin in the trash bin, then walked off to her dark, LED-lit teen cave.


I was left stunned and stupefied—my instincts for Reverence for Life bowled over. Was it the end of the world? No. Had it been a brown recluse cousin, the beast would have met a similar fate with the sole of my shoe. But I had wanted to reward it with further life for allowing me the privilege of close-up examination.


Then the epiphany came: might here be a shadowy clue of the mischievous celestials?


Perhaps there are gods who find us curious, who approach and study us with innocent intent, with every intention of delivering us to safety. And perhaps there are gods who find us appalling and mash us without a second thought. And perhaps there are gods who simply don’t notice us at all, and wander by on the way to the kitchen en route to a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios.


Perhaps these gods are one and the same being—or not. How they manifest their individuality really doesn’t matter in the end, when you end up spared or squished. Or ignored.


These days, I find that all descriptions of the divine contain hints of true and untrue. I’m finding it easier to consider that there are really multiple personalities/individualities of the divine—if there’s really any divinity at all. For now, it’s easier to believe that there’s a god who finds us curious and worthy of help, and one who finds us disgusting and worthy of being balled up in a napkin and sent to the landfill.


But I can’t just live with the mantra “God is love.” Because the gods are also “un-love” and the primary cause of suffering. And they are also responsible for all the loneliness and emptiness, and boredom and ennui, that any form of life is capable of experiencing.


How I fit into all of this, I have no idea. But I did eventually get around to that bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios. And it was tasty, at least.


And so it goes.



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