Health Advice



Spiritual Life: A tiny spider can teach us to persevere

By Timothy J. Ledbetter, Tri-City Herald on

Published in Health & Fitness

It's early morning. The sun is just peeking onto the backyard or the park or the trail or the balcony. The pale rays brighten and verify colors from their muted-grey overnight rest. Then it catches your eye — strand after carefully placed strand shimmering in stunning dewy array of iridescent nano-pearls.

You are gazing upon your basic, average spiderweb. Strung imperceptibly from several anchor points, it somehow floats there ... in marvelous, miraculous diaphanous display.


I am no arachnologist, but if you want to see something amazing, look online for a way-up-close video of one being painstakingly built one gossamer filament at a time. Emit a line, tie it off, emit a line, tie it off. Over and over, round and round. Occasionally a fine line breaks, and promptly the repair is completed prior to the methodical building process resuming.

Spiderwebs are a study in planning and detail. Who knows how and where spiders decide to set up shop? Once the site is selected, spiders use the wind to drift from one anchor point over to another while emitting a long string of silk.

Talk about grace in motion! Talk about using your resources and your environment to accomplish your goals! Even when dancing in the breeze, the completed web catches the attention and hopefully the bodies of desired little flying bugs and critters.

Spiders are tenacious, engaged in a constant, on-going evolution of making and repairing, with occasional pauses to eat and rest. The videos I watched revealed that no web is impeccable; there are flaws and gaps and awkward patches. Yet, even less-than-perfect aspects soon contribute to the overall effect.

These master-crafters of spun micro-grandeur have all they need. The seemingly endless "spider silk" is part of their resource capital fit for the great task ... one that starts anew each morning. Their targets of such elaborate crocheting become their meal.

Essentially, the web is engineered not to be beautiful but functional; to capture or arrest small prey until the spider can envelop the victim in silk and store it until taken out later and consumed. If a section or strand of line can't be used the first time, it is eaten and reused later. Talk about the virtues of recycling!


Spiders have as much patience and resilience as they do silk. How else do you explain what goes on like daily clockwork?

While I confess to never having interviewed any arachnids; nevertheless, ever since one such web draped over my face the other morning, my amazement and respect for these eight-legged creatures and their exquisite work has re-emerged like a bright new morning. Day after day — sun or rain, calm or breezy, webs long-standing or brought down too soon — spiders persevere, they just keep going.

Perhaps that's a word for our time: Persevere. Keep on going. Keep on making and fixing what is good, true and beautiful. Keep your eyes on the Prize. Keep on keeping on.

DON'T-EVER-GIVE-UP. Remember, "the itsy bitsy spider went up ... ."



Timothy J. Ledbetter, DMin, BCC serves as a Board Certified Chaplain helping persons in crisis effectively cope and find their hope in hospital and hospice settings and is a Tri-City Herald Spiritual Life contributor. He is married and delights in their children and grandchildren. He also enjoys camping and boating. email:

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