The Spider

There is a spider living in our meditation room.  It wasn’t a meditation room when she got started there, just a utility room we didn’t know what to do with, empty and dark with an unused door leading outside.  She spun her web between the bottom of the door and the floor, spanning a thin crevice of daylight.

She seems to do well there, dining on wayward ants and gnats. She is not a large spider, just a little grayish one, speckled like an egg with a bulbous, slightly pointy abdomen and graceful legs; about the size of a nickel, legs and all.

The spider lived there in the unused room for a month or two.  I watched her web with interest.  When a spider stays in one place and one can observe her habits and rhythms, it is endlessly entertaining.  The life of a spider is a fascinating thing.

Christmas gave way to New Year’s.  My mother, who was sick, grew sicker still.  We needed solace.  My husband suggested that we convert the utility room into a meditation room.  And so, on New Year’s Day 2012, we carried in candles, pillows, and crystals.

I was sure the flurry of activity in the formerly forgotten room would make Charlotte – for that’s what we named her in a fit of originality – depart.  It’s a small room, cozy at best, cramped at worst, but we respected the spider as best we could, and there she stayed.

We bought a silk rag rug that stretches from wall to wall.  Charlotte scarcely waved a leg when I carefully slid it under her web.  I hung a decorative scarf across the door until it nearly draped in front of Charlotte.  She expanded her web to incorporate the new piece of fabric.  She even ducks behind it at times and seems to enjoy the added privacy in her newly public space. In my pack of Native American medicine cards, I found a spider card featuring a drawing of a spider that looks so much like Charlotte it’s uncanny.  I placed the card in Charlotte’s corner.  She leaves that alone.

I don’t know how long spiders live.  She lets the husks of her prey fall to the floor but leaves her shed exoskeletons in the web.  There are several.  Apparently she is thriving.

Mom has since died, and my family seeks refuge in the meditation room often.  We light candles and burn incense.  Charlotte does not seem easily disturbed by the new décor or our activities.  I like to think she feels honored, though that’d be ascribing complex emotions to a simple spider. Of course I cannot know how, or if, a spider thinks and feels.

What I do know is that her presence pleases me.  That she has chosen to stay feels like a validation and a blessing of our special space.  Each morning I check, and I am glad to see she is still there.


4 thoughts on “The Spider

  1. When I first moved to Arizona, everyone thought I was crazy for feeding the spider under the stairs that led to my apartment. I was comforted that she was there each day, my first friend in the state. I even found dead flies in the apartment and I’d throw them in the web on my way to work sometimes. I found out later that she was a black widow after she got so big I could see the red hourglass on her tummy. She was beautiful. Thanks for sharing your story, and reminding me of my first companion in the state.

  2. When I first moved to Arizona, everyone thought I was crazy to feed the beautiful spider under the stairs leading to my apartment. I would even feed her dead flies I found in my apartment, throwing them into the web as I left for work. She was my first friend in the state, and it comforted me to see her there each time I came and went. I found out later that she was a black widow after she had grown so much that I could see the red hourglass on her tummy. She was beautiful! Thanks for sharing your story and reminding me of mine.

  3. I thought I was the only one who had a pet spider. It’s funny how one life can validate another life — spider can encourage human. Thanks again for your thoughts.

  4. It seems a lot of us have pet spiders! Valerie, I’m with you – black widows in my opinion mind their own business. They are slow-moving and just hang out in their webs. If I feel they are too close for comfort, I relocate them. Ed, yes, they do seem to become mascots or totems of sorts. I read an essay by Mary Oliver where she had encountered the same phenomenon. She let a spider take up residence in a stairwell, watched it with fascination as it spun egg sacs, and then had to move. She didn’t know whether to relocate the spider or leave a note for the next tenants (who may or may have not been sympathetic) with the hope that they would respect the spider and leave it alone. I think it is the mark of a writer that we pay such attention to small things – and care so much for them.

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