Maybe you can relate to this, but I spend a lot of time in my office. Typically, when I wake up, it's the first place I go in my house to drink coffee, let Howie out to play, read my bible and pray. And then honestly, quiet time in my office bleeds into my first hour of work. Not in a bad way though. More like in the way that watercolors will blend together inside a droplet of water, forming a beautiful sort of tie-dye. That's generally what it's like to have my quiet time in the same space where I work about 8 hours every day. But recently, I've felt the need for a sacred, different space for my quiet times. So the other morning I drug my plush, floral chair out of my office across the house into one of the spare rooms that was home to just a random assortment of pieces: a book shelf, an old enamel top cabinet, a marble top side table my Mima used to have in her house. And of course lots of lamps. If you know me, you know that I have enough lamps even for my spare upon spare bedrooms.
After about 15 minutes of finagling furniture, I now had my reading nook--a place in the house specifically designated for time with God. It's different and special. For the past 4 years, I've always had my quiet time in the same space where I work (I've worked from home for 4 years). But now, I have a nook. It's different. And lovely. And honestly, it's requiring some getting used to. My animals have taken to it quite easily. Bowie will rest on the lush sheepskin rug beneath my floral chair, and even Howie now follows me into my reading nook each morning even though his home is all the way across the house in my office. (Howie is a semi-range free bunny who gets let out of his cage for several hours each morning to romp about the house. You can read about how I care for him here if you're interested. We've actually kicked a lot of bad habits since I wrote that post, so he's allowed even more freedom now!)
But despite my animals feeling right at home, each of them sprawled out across the carpet beneath my chair, I am having trouble adjusting. It takes me extra time to feel settled in my new reading nook, even though it's such a good, even luxurious thing to have a space specifically designated for my daily devotionals. On mornings when I'm feeling uprooted and distracted, I'll often look out the window. Before the move to the spare room, when I would read my bible in my office, I'd look out the window each morning and take inventory of my Mushroom Dish. Mushroom Dish became a common topic in my morning journaling because it was something I took note of almost every day. The little dish shaped mushroom outside my window was always there, for weeks on end, living quietly and collecting water droplets. Mushroom Dish is quite a sight, and has become fairly dear to me, I must admit.
But now I look out a new window. There's a fence. The side of the neighbors pink brick house. Bark on the ground from the Crepe Myrtle tree. Grass. Dirt. And, oh! A spider friend! He's mean looking. But beautiful. Perfectly made. He has a glistening silver back with neon green stripes and a brilliant orange spot on his belly. Minus his beautiful coloring, his body shape looks he could be the villain in a movie about bugs. His legs are long and sharp. His body angular and black. But he's beautiful. And he's my new friend. He sits quietly in his intricate web, just waiting, fixing, doing spider things. I feel quiet when I look at him sitting there. He's not moving or doing much. But he is doing what he's supposed to do. He doesn't move or spin, but he's not being lazy. He's actually being active. He's sitting there quietly, in his web, waiting, perfectly fulfilling his work quota for the day as well as fulfilling his grand spiderly purpose in life... all by sitting there in his web.
Well, the other night it rained hard. And a lot. When I woke up this morning and did all my morning things, I wasn't thinking about my new spider friend. I made coffee in the French press. I fed Bowie. I opened Howie's cage so he could hop out. And finally, I found my way to my new nook. I love my nook, but I still feel a tad unsettled there. So, I looked out the window. And, oh! He's gone! His web was torn down by the rain! Tragedy. I look harder. Could he still be nearby? Oh.. there! Wow. There he is. He's on the branch. His web had been anchored between slender a C-shaped branch and the trunk of the Crepe Myrtle. And there he is, at the near end of the C, so close to my window, huddled under the branch as it jostles in the wind.
There he is. I'm filled with admiration of this tough little spider, intimidating as he looks. When things got rough in his life, he knew to grab the branch and hold on tight until the storm was over. I stare at him for some time, marveling at his instinct and patience. His web is torn down, he's all alone, but he's holding on. Instinct told him to hold on to the branch.
Immediately I'm struck with the point of this whole thing. I've been feeling unsettled about more things in my life than just my new reading nook. Work, relationships, a new town, change--the list of unsettling things is long. I've pushed and pushed to maintain productivity and positivity and personality through all of these unsettling things, and in the last week I've felt myself deplete a little. As I look at the spider now, I know what to do to face all these unsettling things. Huddle under my branch and hold on tight.
My spider friend knows the storm will pass eventually, and when it does, it will be time to rebuild the web and begin to harvest all that the web collects.
"Adopt the pace of nature, her secret is patience."
I wrote about patience back in January, about how it was my word of 2018. Now as the year about comes to a close, this word has founds its way back into my vocabulary.
I'm a pusher. A doer. A goer. A mover. Productive. Motivated. Goal oriented. Competitive. Comparative. These things drive me much of the time. But occasionally, I'll deplete, and it's all I can do to get myself out of bed in the morning. Why? Oh, I don't know. A myriad of things. All of which are between me and God. The why isn't the point. It's what I end up doing with it is the point. And what I learned to do with it today, through my spider friend, through the pace of nature, is to buckle down, grab my branch, and wait for the storm to pass. Allow myself to rest until it's safe to build my web again. Allow myself to forgo the opportunities that are flying past in the wind because if it's not safe for me to try and grab them, if the conditions aren't right even though the chances and to-do lists and pressing matters of life and work and existence haven't relented in their persistent pestering, then I still ought to let them go and just hold fast to my branch until wisdom says it's time to rebuild again.
My branch is Jesus. He holds me, covers me and protects me in the wind and the rain. No matter how fierce a storm brews outside, I'm always safe resting at his feet. No amount of time there is wasted.
Soon though, the sun will come back out and the wind will die down. And when it does, I'm sure my spider friend will pick himself up and rebuild his web once more. He'll resume the quiet, patient life of a spider. Just he same, I know I'll settle down too. All the things that are making me anxious, that give me unrest, soon I know they'll all quiet down too, and I'll have the strength to rebuild my web. Not now, but soon. And until then, I'll cling to my branch and let myself rest. I'll cling tight to Jesus, safe, rested, and protected in his embrace. Web time will come. But for now, I cling to my branch.
My little reading nook
and my new window.
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