Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Spiders in the Night: The Secrets that Haunt Us

Photo by Ellyjonez via Flickr

I saw a spider last night.

It was after midnight. The house was dark, except for the corner of light that fell from the bathroom into the hallway where my mom and I stood talking.

It was a dark shadow, hardly visible, that scurried into my brother’s room. “Mom, there’s a spider. Quick, get me some tissue!”

I watched it until she returned. “Oh, I think it’s a recluse.” My mom turned on the light. “Oh, oh, oh, I can’t do it. It is a recluse. I need to kill it. Oh, oh!”

Luckily for me, my dad heard us and came to the rescue. He killed the spider. Then he looked it over and discovered it was, indeed, a Brown Recluse.

We had been concerned about the existence of the poisonous arachnid in our home. Several weeks ago, a bite had appeared on my ankle, looking suspiciously (according to my LPN father) like a recluse bite. I had tried not to think about it, though I had watched the bite with some concern.

I hate spiders. One of my most recurrent nightmares surrounds being attacked by spiders, being covered in them, finding them in my pajamas, etc. And, of all the eight-legged monsters, I have feared most the Black Widow, who’s bite can kill you, and the Brown Recluse, who’s bite can rot holes into your flesh.

I had tried to convince myself that the bite was not from a recluse. Now, it seemed clear it was. My dad, knelt to look at my ankle once again, and told me I was lucky. So far, there is no hole, just a dry patch of skin.

Then I went to bed. Or, I should say, I tried to go to bed.

First I pulled down all the bedding. Nope, no spiders there.

Then I reached my hands around the foot of the mattress, where I couldn’t see. No spiders.

I climbed in bed, then pulled all the bedding up onto the bed. I didn’t want the spiders to have an easy climb to me.

I laid my head on my pillows. My pillows! Could there be spiders in there?

I lay there in my bed, afraid. A grown woman, scared to death of spiders.

Spiders – tiny little creatures who hate me as much as I hate them.

Spiders – creatures that were in my home all along. I knew they might be there. I just hoped they weren’t.

Spiders – one of which my dad had killed. There were less spiders in my house last night than the night before.

Spiders – I had been bitten by one and lived to tell the tale.

People – what funny creatures we are.

It occurred to me, as I lay there thinking, that spiders are a lot like secret sins. They haunt the dark corners of our own lives and the lives of our loved ones. We know they might be there. We figure, they probably are. No one is perfect after all; we all have our own skeletons (or spiders) in our closets. But, we like to think they are only the harmless type – little ugly bugs we’d rather weren’t there, but aren’t going to do any harm staying where they are.

But sometimes, light falls on a dark place, and we see a spider.

Sometimes it is poisonous. And then, we can become afraid.

“Why God? Why have you let this spider in?”

Often we sink into our fear. We check our beds, climb under our sheets, pull the covers over our heads and hope to God the spider goes away, knowing all along it won’t.

Other times, we call our Father. And He comes in, and kills the spider.

But, instead of rejoicing in the victory, we can become timid. If there is one spider, there might be more. Who knows where one might be hiding? No place is safe – not even my own bed.

Oh, we of little faith. The spider was there all along. Now our Father has killed it. Why be afraid? We are safer now than before. Now is the time to rejoice!

And all along, we have the scars on our bodies of the spiders we have survived. Why, when God has protected and strengthened us for so long, are we now afraid? Again, I say – oh we of little faith.

There is darkness in the world. We are living in the night. And in the night, there are spiders. But thanks be to God that our lives are filled with light that reveals the spiders. Thanks be to God that we have a Father that never sleeps, but waits for us to call on Him to kill our spiders. And thanks be to God that He heals our bites and makes us whole again.

We have nothing to fear from spiders in the night.

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