I relayed in a previous blog post that my father lived with a fear of snakes. I have never had this fear myself. On my recent vacation my sisters were horrified, upon discovering a snake in the garage of our rental facility, that my first instinct was to conduct an up-close examination rather than, I guess, calling 911. They are their father’s daughters. I have no fear snakes. Spiders on the other hand…I have always, at least as long as I can remember, been afraid of spiders. The fear is not based on anything any spider ever did to me. Giant horror movie spiders do not move the terror needle for me. But honest actual spiders of almost any size just give me the willies. They have too many limbs, too many eyes (I realize the same could be said for the Biblical descriptions of Cherubim and Seraphim) too strange methods of moving, hunting, eating, and – I don’t know that I can quantify it. Spiders are just creepy.
I don’t generally go into histrionics; I just develop strategies to avoid spiders when I can and murder them when I can’t. I always recall an occasion when my daughter, Sarah, and I were setting a trot line in the Muscatatuck River. I had tied off one end of the line to a tree on the bank and the two of us canoed out to a mostly submerged tree that had fallen into the river and washed to its current location. As we approached the tree I spied a short knobby branch I thought would be perfect to tie off the other end of the line and pointed it out so Sarah could see what I wanted her to steer toward. As she took the last few strokes I leaned over the prow of the canoe, line in hand, ready to tie off. What had appeared at a distance to be the swollen end of the knobby branch – that swollen end I thought would serve so well to keep the line in place below it, THAT swollen of the knobby branch raised up on its eight legs and made to defend it’s position. It was a big old wolf spider like the ones that used to make waves moving through the grass in my parent’s lawn. Those long-ago spiders persuaded me I did not actually want to lay down in the grass. This spider persuaded me that another branch would be even better for tying off the trot line.
As a child I thought the big black and yellow ‘Writing Spiders’ were the worst – partly because they would weave their large orb webs right over tomatoes and strawberries that needed picking. At least my mother thought those particular fruit needed picking. I was fairly sure we would never miss them.
Then as a young teen I learned about tarantulas – spiders that eat birds and mice – and trap door spiders, Ugh! It just kept getting worse!
Then as a grown man I found out about Camel Spiders. Look them up. Seeing that American soldiers in the Middle East had to deal with these arachnid monsters made me glad I never enlisted. Camel Spiders are not venomous. They don’t need to be! They eat tarantulas! Also lizards. Sometimes kittens. All of which they murder by brute force. Worse, they have a propensity to chase human beings. I should add that the technical literature assures me the chasing thing is not actually the case. Here’s what happens. A soldier will be stationed on guard duty in that extra hot part of the world. The Camel Spider is simply looking for shade and sometimes finds it in the shadow of the soldier/sentinel. Eventually, the Camel Spider actually leans against the soldier’s boot. The Camel Spider is large enough that leaning creates a pressure sensible to the soldier who looks down and realizes there is a spider the size of a chihuahua leaning on his boot. The soldier moves, often with alacrity. The soldier’s shadow goes with him. The Camel Spider says – Hey that’s my shade! And makes every effort to keep in the shadow of the retreating soldier – which increases the speed of the soldier’s retreat, which… So, you see, the Camel Spider is not actually chasing the soldier. It’s only trying to stay in the soldier’s shadow. … I’m sorry, but the distinction seems a little hazy to me.
Well, in the world as it once was, before the fall from Eden, man was at peace with all creatures. In the world as it will be, I am certain God can bring us to peace again. Even the spiders and I.
Pastor and Author Terry Bailey, Senior Minister of Indian Run Christian Church