West Virginia Morning: Tethered

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In the early hours of the morning, the spiders show off their finest work. There are the intricately wheeled silk circles of the garden orb, the thick cottony sheets layered in small patches over the grass, there are the thin spindles of threads left behind after a spider has consumed his silk and moved on. Everywhere I go in the yard I am wiping away strands unseen.

I don’t mind, this walking through feels like being kissed by dew and all these strands of gossamer tether me to the earth somehow. Frédérec Gros says that walking “is not just a matter of truth, but also of reality.” He says, “To walk is to experience the real. Not reality as pure physical exteriority or as what might count as a subject, but reality as what holds good: the principle of solidity, of resistance. When you walk, you prove it with every step: the earth holds good. With every pace, the entire weight of my body finds support, and rebounds, takes a spring. There is everywhere a solid base underfoot.”

Gravity holds me, but also all other things of this good earth cup my body tenderly; I move and breathe as part of entire system of things: the spiderweb, the pollen sifting through the air, the grass heavy with morning’s respiration …

I am not a pantheist, but it still remains that God so loved the world and when I walk through it I can feel this world he loves waiting, expectant, longing for Christ’s return.

The meadow is stitched with Queen Anne’s Lace. It is so beautiful it makes my heart ache. When we first moved here, it was different—it was tame. A retired couple owned the land and tended it meticulously. Mr. and Mrs. Casto kept it mowed, pristine, and often, when I would be pushing my babies on our swing set, Mrs. Casto would stop on her riding mower and tell me how my boys reminded her of hers. Mr. Casto has since passed away and his lovely wife lives in a residential facility. The boys and I used to visit her—take her pies made from the apples in her meadow. But time has a way of playing tricks on the memory and our visits eventually became confusing to the dear woman.

Now the meadow is a tangled mass of trees and strubs and Queen Anne’s Lace. Yesterday, I watched a ruby-throated hummingbird light on the tip of the hickory tree. It flitted from limb to limb like a feather in the wind. It’s hard to tell what hides in all that underbrush. Somewhere in there are the apple and pear trees the Casto boys used to climb for sport.

Later this morning we will drive north for my family reunion. Last night I dreamed Aunt Martha was a live and well and welcomed us when we arrived. She was young and slim and beautiful and because she was younger, I was too. There is nothing like a day with extended family to make one feel like a child. But this tethers me also—the embrace of the kin. And just like the spider silk their touch stays with me for a time.

What tethers you to this good earth?

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