I saw something, yesterday, as I sat in my blue chair over by the window. While looking up and thinking about something I cannot now recall, I saw something … waving silently, high and near the top of our vaulted ceiling. I hadn’t noticed it before, perhaps because it was wispy, fine as one of the thinning hairs on my head. A cobweb waved at me, as if it were daring me to do anything about its presence. Although I noticed its dangling undulations, I won’t mention it to her. The little woman, I mean. The wife of my youth. I won’t tell her about that cobweb, for obvious reasons.
I got to wondering where cobwebs come from, as I sat there looking at it. Do they just show up? Fall from the ceiling, unannounced? So, I asked Google. Turns out that Google said cobwebs are abandoned spider webs. Some species of spiders spin threads for the specific purpose of catching prey. But almost as soon as they spin those webs, something that must really annoy the spider begins to happen. Rather than catching dinner for the spider, the webs begin to attract fine particles of dust that invisibly float around all homes. As dust particles stick to the web, they become visible. You might say, they sort of ‘pile up’ and we notice them hanging, like threads of laundry on a line. I’m not going to mention to my wife that the invisible dust in our house was piling up like laundry on a line, though. (I’ve seen guys get hurt real bad doing stuff like that.) No. Instead, I’m gonna stand on my blue chair over by the window with a dust broom and knock that cobweb down before my wife sees it hanging on our ceiling.
It would be great if all cobwebs in life were that easy to deal with, I think.
The Message translation of Job, chapter 8 reminds me a bit of the importance of our awareness of spider webs. That passage in Job 8 says that those who forget God “… hang their life from one thin thread, they hitch their fate to a spider web. One jiggle and the thread breaks ….” The problem with dust is that every house collects it. And every human being is afflicted with it, too. We live in a dusty, dirty world. And as we walk through the moments of every day, the attitudes and affects of that world can stick to us, almost invisibly, like floating particles of dust. Ideas and deceptive philosophies can try to attach themselves to our way of thinking, and almost dare us to do anything about their presence.
I wonder if noticing the cobwebs in my life is anything like what Jeremiah was thinking, when he wrote, ““Among my people are the wicked who lie in wait like men who snare birds and like those who set traps to catch people.” (Jer. 5:26) God’s Word brings light and hope. But ignoring God is what hopelessness is made of. The affect may seem invisible. But Job said it well: the hopes of those who forget God … come to nothing.