So, my planned topic this week was French toast and the recollections that surround my sometimes… ahhhh… umm… ineffective attempts at preparing this simple dish. That intention was unashamedly ambushed. As the week has progressed and cooler, crisper weather has moved in, I have been forced to conduct my annual (bi-annual actually), relocation of spiders duty…and yes, that was the nice way of putting it. I realize that there are those that lovingly co-exist with the furry, scurrying little creatures, and I am in amazement of that; but, I am not one of those persons.
This time of year, the middle of October through the first of November, always brings with it bittersweet memories. It was at this time, two years ago that my somewhat smooth, orderly life started to get a little bumpy. I was enjoying my first (and possibly last) adventure to Los Angeles; unaware that a mere three weeks later my whole world would shift focus. (Definite pun intended!). When over three fourths of your vision is damaged, it will unequivocally shift your focus. These days, there are things, because of my vision loss, that I just don’t see.
The majority of damage is my field vision within both eyes. This affects my side and primarily my lower vision, with almost all of the left eye affected, along with the field vision. The somewhat good vision that I have remaining is in the top of my right eye. I can see. through a blurry lens, out and over at what is in a direct line out in front of me. I am very thankful for that patch of hazy vision. As odd as it sounds, this field vision disruption has had one, sort of, unexpected outcome.
I don’t see spiders like I used to!
This is a girl that, in the olden days, would not even kill a spider for fear of it jumping on her, or even at her! Just thinking about them while I am writing this gives me the shivers! I am thinking that if that one spider would have only stayed hidden on Wednesday morning that they all would have fared a little better. I thought for a while that we just did not have spiders like we used to. Hey, I have peppermint in most every corner and crevice inside the house! Then realization dawned that they are still there, they are just hovering in the gray area around me that I no longer see.
I must admit too, that I do still hold a grudge over the suspected spider bite from back in the spring. I know the spider that lived in the shrub that I was trimming at the time of the said bite. So recently, either he moved down to the bushes at the end of the house, or was vacationing in the hydrangeas before heading inside for the winter. To begin with, that spider had to be in just the right place, at the wrong time for me to be able to see him in the first place. He had to be right at the precise eye level that had the clearest vision for me; yet, there he was just hanging there soaking up the sun (which I didn’t think spiders did?) in a web (beautiful, I admit) going from the hydrangea bush to the side of the house…right under my bedroom window! Seriously? They know me, they know how I feel about them, especially if this is the same “biter” guy that’s been around all summer. I knew something had to be done. Let’s just say that he is removed from the side of the house and will definitely not be wintering in the corner of my bedroom closet.
So my chauffeur willingly took me to the local home improvement store so I could play exterminator for the fall (because, even though she acts brave, she does not like them any better than I do!) I ran into a friend as I went in the store through the garden department. I was lingering at, looking over the pansies (imagine that!) I told her that they were beautiful and I would be back to pick some up; but they were colorful and beautiful and positive and I was not on a colorful, beautiful, positive mission that day. I found a couple of gallons of the fluid (one for the house next door), plus about twenty dollars worth of insect traps (for inside the house, where, although I have not seen them, I have been told that they are there). So I took my purchases back to the checkout in the garden area. As I set the first gallon of “be gone juice” on the counter and then plopped down the (six boxes with four individual traps inside) insect traps, right across my hand scurried a pretty good size, smallish spider (that makes sense to me and anyone else that feels the same!) It danced away very quickly to the space between the checkout counter and the cooler behind it. I leaned over, peered into the darkness and said, “Run. Run. Run away. Run far away little spider! And you’d better call your cousins and tell them to run away also.” The checkout lady may have thought I’d lost my mind at that point, but I’m O.K. with that.
So, when I returned home, I dressed in the proper attire, borrowed the ladder from the garage next door (that I am just now confessing to,) and the extermination process was completed in record time. I replaced the ladder, that I was technically allowed to borrow–just not supposed to be climbing on. Of course, the “technically allowed to borrow” may be rescinded if my neighbor reads this. Maybe he won’t. So I just knew that the inside spiders had heard all about what had happened on the outside. I figured they were riled. So before I went to bed, I “re-pepperminted” my room. I put it on cotton balls and threw them in the corners of my closet. I threw a couple under my bed and in the corners of my room. It will do no use to tell you not to laugh, because I can already hear the snickers, snorts and hee-haws; (You know, you really should think these things through – without emotion involved – before you carry them out sometimes.) but I even ran a peppermint-soaked cotton ball all around the bottom of my bed frame and around the bottom of my box springs, and you really gotta like the smell of peppermint to want to use it in that fashion; that, or hate spiders more than the eye watering, nostril-searing scent of peppermint! My sinuses may never be the same!
I’m feeling kind of OK about the inside of the house, because, really, I can’t see them like I used to. Although the one that dared to be in the shower with me did not live long to regale the others with their bravery. All I’m saying is that if he’d stayed down, I probably would not have noticed. Just don’t craw up spiders. Stay down. I’m begging you! Stay down!
Spiders and I have a long history, and it is a tension that will probably always be there. The thing is that I will not be as involved in the “battle” because I am sometimes unaware of the activity. I cannot see what is lurking in the shadows around me. What I can see is that we have the same battle issues in our Christian lives. We sometimes have a gray haze over the things that we are uncomfortable with, afraid of, or simply don’t want to see. We sometimes use that blurry, hazy patch of vision to only look straight at the safe things in front of us, without peering up or to the side, or heaven help us, downward; and I think that sometimes that is deliberate.
At times, those spiders are actions that need to be done. Sometimes we do not see those things because we do not want to. You know that spiritual battles are not always about keeping ourselves from doing wrong or avoiding evil. Sometimes they are about not avoiding what is right. Hey, we don’t have to think about that mini van, loaded with children, broken down on the side of the Interstate if we don’t look at it. We don’t have to think about the shut-in down the street, that is lonely and longing for only a phone call, if we never turn our gaze to the side as we pass. We do not have to stand up for the person being pushed around if we glance away from the corner and walk the other way…
Look, there in the corner, it is the spider of apathy…turn your gaze downward and see – stand behind the person that needs a friend..
Over there to the right, see it, it is the spider of indifference…turn your head and look – pay for the last few groceries of the lady that you have watched frugally shop around the store and is still a few dollars short…
Oh my, up and to the left, can’t you see that spider of oblivion…focus your eyes and see – show compassion to those less fortunate than yourself…
Look down…look down (at yourself) and you might see that spider of self-centeredness…focus and see life around you – be loving to your neighbor, your sister, your brother, your mother, your father – your child…
If I don’t deliberately look for spiders, then the spiders are not there.
Or, are they?
I can’t finish this entry without the final piece to the “spider” story for the week. I was sitting at Bible Study on Thursday morning, after the spider-elimination events of Wednesday. I was looking up at the security monitors that show views of the various entry ways of the church. As I was starting to glance away, I saw it. I could not miss it. I figured it was coming for me. There, creepy, crawly, covering the whole (I’m telling you the Whole…seriously the WHOLE) monitor screen, was a big black, hairy, scary looking monster spider! Yep, from my perspective , it looked like a massively large, ugly menacing thing; when in real life, outside, crawling over the lens of the camera, it was probably only the size of my thumb nail. How often do we make the spiders in our lives into something so large that we fear even to gaze upon them; when in reality we should focus our eyes on them and the things that matter, and tap, tap, smoosh, smoosh, squish, squish along doing the things that we should be doing?
Make no mistake, God is not mocked. A person will harvest what they plant. Those who plant only for their own benefit will harvest devastation from their selfishness, but those who plant for the benefit of the Spirit will harvest eternal life from the Spirit. Let’s not get tired of doing good, because in time we’ll have a harvest if we don’t give up.
Galatians 6:7-9 (CEB)