huge garden spider, affectionately named, "Itsy"
(August 7, 2004)
Elders / photo by me
while tending our gardens (vegetable AND flower) here, I got truly
angry over our third year of Hill County locust plagues (actually,
Jerusalem locusts, of all things....), and, trying to be careful among
the blooms and veggies, I walked, with each successive footstep
forward I made creating dust clouds of locusts flying in all
directions. Days before I had noticed another annual visitor to
the gardens, a HUGE (see photo above) black and yellow garden spider,
who rebuilds her web each year in order to catch such late summer
garden pests by constructing a strong sticky net usually just inches
above my head, somewhere in our yard. Once or twice I have
unhappily run into her web
while mowing. She has, though, as a consequence over time learned
build it higher and higher up. Last week my neighbor Nancy and I
stumbled into it unsuspecting as we strolled the yard, admiring the
year's crop of cantaloupes. Our startling encounter had left
Itsy's web somewhat subsequently mangled, but she repaired it
promptly, though not completely.
I later apologized to Itsy, and that night, upon discovering a dried
out locust carcass on our back deck, delivered the corpse to her web in
act or half-contrition. Well, Itsy was on that dead locust faster
than I could blink, and as she began spinning her culinary cocoon with
I slunk away-- feeling somewhat guilty for tossing
another one of God's creations away like refuse---not unlike the Senate
Anyway, there I
stood yesterday, thigh deep in stems, gazing across what looked to be
acre of recently defoliated ground-covering Vinca where the locusts
grasshoppers play and jump hither and yon with quintessential
abandon---and seeing them proved
to be my last straw; I snapped.
Up I scooped one of those ugly brown
things into my eager hands, and--marching over to Gene's and my little
apple tree where Itsy's half shredded web lay in wait--flung that
locust into Itsy's clutches faster than Nolan Ryan's
"I'll show you!" I thought
with blinding rage. "And let
your unhappy demise be a warning to all the others!!!"
But I had barely
gotten out those words, when I saw in utter amazement the locust
sailing right through a tattered hole in Itsy's web, where it then
plummeted unto the soft green grass on the other side of the yard just
beyond our apple tree. And there that locust did lay,
stunned indeed from its unscheduled flight.
proceeded across the yard and around the tree, picked up the locust up
in my hand, resumed my position upon the mound and hurled again, this
time aiming for the "sweet spot" -- Itsy's own corner in the web where
the stitches were tighter and escape holes fewer. And I fired....
Well, don't you know, that grasshopper just kept on a goin' like there
was no web there at all, whereupon Itsy subsequently climbed up into
tallest point of her web and sat there, shivering inexplicably. This nearly made me pop
my cork. So, around the tree I marched once more, scooping up the
dazed locust into my right hand, then stomping back to and
original position beneath our apple tree, I fired that locust into
But I was not to be
avenged. That grasshopper, now utterly limp from multiple midair
hurls, sailed effortlessly past Itsy seated there in her corner,
and--snagging on a single sticky silken thread--dropped down a ways,
and dangled there in midair inches below Itsy's fangs. The
convicted, now exhausted from its travails, wiggled and swung
halfheartedly, while Itsy in a most puzzling display of seeming
indifference, sat impassively just above the locust's head. That
little bug swung there gently in the breeze for what seemed like ten
minutes while the spider sat motionless just above it and me.
Irate wouldn't describe me. Although I wasn't about to put my hand near
Itsy to snatch the locust and insure delivery; this spider being nearly
as big as
my hand, I imagined she could probably inflict a similarly sized
bite as well. Instant death to the enmy, but huge pain to the
So there we all were.
Soon I began to feel flush with guilt for my rage. But before I
could repent, however, the silken thread gave way, and the hapless
to the ground again, as I found myself running around our apple tree
to try once more. But when I reached the place where the
grasshopper appeared to have landed, I couldn't find it.
"No...no!" I groaned, robbed
of justice. "This can't be
Itsy sat motionless
in the farthest corner of her mangled web, gazing at me from the
uppermost branches of our little apple tree. She had not even
once tried to catch that grasshopper as it sailed past. I had
offered it up to her multiple times and, yet, every time it was not to
I traipsed around
the orchard half-heartedly then, my righteous outrage slowly dissolving
into the summer's heat. Only part of me any longer really hoped
to find the critter, the other part seemd to be involuntarily winding
down from the adrenaline rush and felt relieved not to have committed
murder on the unsuspecting. I never did find the grasshopper.
So what was I to ultimately conclude from all of this....
Today it occurs to
me that perhaps only the God who created all of this has final
authority to execute justice, even though He appoints his earthly
representatives to act in His stead regarding issues of moral, ethical,
and legal relevance. And it also occurs to me that when some of
His beloved children attempt to take matters into His their own hands
by executing vengeance on their perceived enemies, if said "enemies"
are not also God's enemies,
perhaps He must restrain certain of us, demonstrating exactly how
divine justice must work--not
in random outbursts of (rage) vengeance, but, instead meted out with
eyes and hearts attuned to such divine qualities as mercy, longsufferingness, and compassion.
I am not certain
about such things at all. But I do know I felt better having been
thwarted than I would have had I had succeeded.
Out here in the Hill Country, it is admittedly hard to feel mercy and
compassion on seemingly depraved critters like locusts, fire ants,
rattlesnakes. However, if we are allowed to always act on impulse
taking matters of justice into our own hands without an eye for God's
own standards, then, at the least we may risk becoming the thing
Perhaps this week
as we consider our own country's future and its past attitudes toward
perceived "enemies," may we truly find ourselves better served by such
qualities as mercy, longsufferingness, and compassion. Even if
the hand of Almighty God ultimately must intervene, releasing seeming
locusts within our grasp, in order that we learn our lesson HIS way. Let us each try
to consider that His Word promises reassurance to all who lean on Him,
that He promises that He, alone, as Creator, declares Himself the
ultimate Judge of all His creation. Therefore, by trusting Him
and remembering His Word, we find ourselves comforted and released from
the futility of trying to make everything in our world turn out
right. Knowing and trusting His promises to us can free us from
potential acts of violence, enabling us to do the impossible--to love
those undeserving of it,
hence, "loving one another..." ,
as He has indeed truly loved us.
To Him only be the glory and the honor. Amen.
You are in my prayers. Please keep me in yours.
Questions? Comments? Email me HERE.
more Encouraging Words:
"With All that is
Happening, What Can I Do Now" --
June 8, 2004
All Feels So Hopeless Sometimes" -- June 28, 2004
"From the Heart" -- January 2005
Or try our Notes