West Virginia Morning: Hidden (and a giveaway)


‘As if you could kill time without injuring eternity,’ Thoreau wrote. You don’t want to kill time but to welcome it, to pick off its leaves and petals one by one, second by second.” ~Frédéric Gros, A Philosophy of Walking

It’s the time of year when I can’t go outside without getting caught in a spider web. I no sooner walk out in the yard and I am wrapped in bands of light, clawing at my face and limbs to wipe off the sticky threads. I cannot be irritated, though, for the spider has long held my admiration. What beauty she gives us on these dewy mornings. This is the best time to go out and see—star shards left behind in the night, captured in the silken webs.

I found her hiding place this morning while filling the finch feeders. Black oil sunflower seeds dropped down plastic tubes and out of the corner of my eye I saw the morning breeze exhale across silken threads. One does not usually get to enjoy such artwork before sunrise so I padded over to gawk, wet grass clinging to bare feet.

She wasn’t home but I made myself comfortable anyway, let my eyes linger on light-studded gossamer as a cardinal complained noisily in a nearby tree.

There it was again—faint ripple in the design and as the toile-work lifted and fell it was as if an invisible string joined my soul to its gentle rise. In your light, we see light, the Psalm I read this morning said, and I can feel eternity stir inside of me—the place that beauty always touches.

Things are changing around here. Teddy decided not to come home this weekend for fall break and the emptiness of these rooms echoes deep in my heart. I wonder what he is doing with his time, long for a text that says more than, “hi,” feel this new kind of mothering like being caught in a spiderweb. Flailing.  But there is something else, too, in this restless season. The fire of expectation burns the empty into promise. The earth models for us how to handle these transitions with grace and my hungry eyes seek its tutelage. Autumn whispers on the edges of the days and last night I noticed the fireflies have finally made themselves scarce.

“From now on we lose two minutes of daylight every day,” my friend Frankie told me yesterday at work. “And in November, we lose an hour.”

Later today I will pull up my ramshackle beans, what’s left of the tomatoes and squash. Then I will plant the fall crop of greens. I texted my mother-in-law this morning, “Am I too late?” And she said, no, there is still time.

As I wait for the spider to appear, the sun burns off the morning dew. I feel time move over me—my shoulders, my neck, the curve of my cheek. I have a million things to do today, my only day off from the day job. It’s like that, I try to crowd too much into this one small gap of time. And yet, here I stand, lost in the wonder of a light-studded web.

An allowance for unbridled joy through playdates with God on Sabbath can provide the same result as a quiet, meditative retreat.” Shelly Miller says, in her lovely new book Rhythms of Rest: Finding the Spirit of Sabbath in a Busy World. “Extravagant wastefulness with time might prove the most productive thing you choose for yourself.”

As I read her words I am feeling seen, for the first time in a long time, perhaps. And I know this tender ache of missing my boy is something beautiful, something to be celebrated, just as is the coming of light each day.

Slowly, sweetly, the light saturates the morning, and my unseen spider friend’s hiding place becomes invisible once again.

To celebrate my friend Shelly’s new book release, I’m giving away a copy of Rhythms of Rest: Finding the Spirit of Sabbath in a Busy World. I’m also including a copy of my book Playdates with God: Having a Childlike Faith in a Grown-up World, which Shelly so graciously quotes in Rhythms of Rest. But wait! There’s more. Also included in the gift pack is a copy of Francine Rivers’ new devotional Earth Psalms: Reflections on How God Speaks Through Nature.  Simply leave a comment for a chance to win. I’ll announce the winner Wednesday, Oct. 12.

This post is a partial reprint from the archives.


  1. Sharon O says

    I always love your writing. Even your words about a spider web is so detailed, although I don’t like spiders at all. Life does change and we journey down a new path with each new season. Ours is retirement.

  2. Sandy Tagaban says

    I enjoy waking up to song of the eagle. There is a nest nearby. Empty nesters here also. So thankful that the grandchildren are just down the road.

  3. says

    Don’t include me in the giveaway of course. Just wanted to say I always love reading you, you have such a beauty in your words. Thank you for mentioning Rhythms of Rest in this post. I hope it will be an exhale for whoever wins the book. And by the way, your description of this new season of parenting like flailing through strands of a spider web are perfect. Lots of love! xo

  4. Cathy says

    I love your blog. I was on book launch team for Shelly’/ book and loved it. If I were to win, I would give a copy of her book to a friend and keep the other two for myself and then loan out. 🙂

  5. Kathleen says

    Oh the delights of books to encourage quieting my soul. I need that as I juggle care of a disabled husband, a full time job, the tug and pull of so many demands. Rest is calling to me….

  6. says

    Funny how something we’ve worked so hard towards as parents can ache so much! There is beauty, too, when they begin to need us less as those apron strings fall loosely at our sides- beauty in knowing we loved them securely enough that they are able to untie them!!

  7. says

    Walking into a huge spider web, that’s what I did this morning too. It wouldn’t have bothered me so much except it caught the side of my face, and when I turned to get out of it, I then caught my hair in it. By the time I was free and able to look at it, there wasn’t much left except a few strands holding tight above my head. Maybe next time I can see the web sparkle in the dew before I destroy all the work of the spider.

    Ah the ache of letting your child drift off into adulthood. Sometimes such conflicting emotions. Pride and sadness, joy and longing. I feel for you, but it also means you are a good mother; a mother there for your child, a mother connected by relationship with her child..

  8. Ly says

    So, so lovely, Laura. And anyone who can beautify a spider and her web is some author! Oh my! I’m irrationally petrified of them (learned that from my mother… and we think they are sneaky! 🙂 ) And I don’t like walking through spider webs (which I often seem to do). I need to learn to appreciate the webs for their intricate delicacy like you do. That’s what I love about your writing, Laura. You always help me to stop and see beauty–just like Shelly does. I know this is a hard time of adjustment for you,and I greatly empathize…. though as a mom, I have not yet known this exact kind of disequilibrium, because Sheridan didn’t go away to college; and now, she is still at home studying for her teaching certificate from the same university, and possibly also her masters. Still, much as you experience that sweet ache where Teddy is concerned, I experience the sweet ache of knowing that Sheridan is no longer a little girl, but a beautiful young woman. In some ways, we can stop time when we pause for Sabbath. In other ways, like when our children grow up, we never can. But we can become friends with each passing season, and appreciate their unique qualities. This post really speaks to me, Laura, because the life I used to see breeze by in one-year, then five-year, and now ten-year chunks–losing daylight days, now years, now decades at a time–is still my life. And I am still living it. And like your MIL says, “There is *still* time.” I’m going to hold on to that promise when my life seems as evanescent as a spider web. I’m going to ask God instead to capture my days in the web, hold me still, and help me make the most of the years I have yet to live, so that I will no longer waste time and injure eternity. Thank you so much for sharing!

  9. Cheri Bunch says

    Good morning, Laura!

    I’ve missed you! Your words are so lovely! They touch my heart so deeply . . . every single time! Thank you for sharing your beauty with the world!



  10. says

    Your words always place me in a peace I don’t want to leave, but the day calls and I crowd mine with a million things, too. In the small moments you provide through your posts, you help others (like me) to feel the beauty of eternity stir. I will linger in this. Thank you for taking me there.

  11. karah t says

    Thank you for this reminder to see…to really see what God is creating all around. I forget to open my eyes to it all.

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