Sunday, April 4, 2010

Attack of the Easter Spider

"My life has been full of terrible misfortunes, 
most of which never happened."
Michel de Montaigne 

The Muse's Salon: Greetings 
from DeNeice’s Easter Spider

"It was jet black, a shade of black so deep your eye just kind of slides off it.  And it shimmered when you looked at it. A spider, big as death and twice as ugly. And when it flies past, it's like you hear a scream in your mind."  --
Lt. Warren Keffer, "Babylon 5"
I know that my mother loved me, but I am convinced that she loved to torture me sometimes. For every Easter, she dressed me up like her baby doll, recited again and again how beautiful I was, yet made me endure the most awful assault on my child body. Those excruciating  Easter dresses!   With their stiff, starched, sinister seams that slashed my soft little girl skin. 

So pretty on the outside and so evil underneath. 

Yes, I was pretty....miserable! 

I remember lying in the back seat of the dark green '52 Buick Special on the way to church, with my skinny little stick arms and stick legs stretched out straight, hardened, and held far away from my tender torso. I lie frozen like a kidsicle so that mean frock could not gnaw at my sides.

We did look pretty though, didn't we, dressed in not only in our Sunday best, but our Easter best. Little boys in itchy wool suits and neckties that strangled. And little girls looking like cake decorations. We learned very young though through personal experience that Easter had something to do with a suffering body. For suffer we did until we could rip those clothes off and be about our play on this special day.
As I grew up, Easter's meaning outgrew the pretty dresses.  The holiday reminds us that things are not always as they appear. All that glitters is not gold. Beauty is only skin deep. And as Gilbert and Sullivan penned in HMS Pinafore, "Things are seldom as they seem." 

Remember Richard Moll as Bull on NBC's  Night Court?
Here he is off-screen, intense, handsome and very hairy.  Not that funny bald bailiff.

Easter reminds us that life transcends appearance. It is a portal to eternity, and it offers immediate instruction to face life faithfully and bravely. We don't need to worry so much. Ernest Holmes in Science of Mind calls fear "misplaced faith in a negative outcome."  

Thank goodness, most of the dark possibilities we dread never materialize. Keep a worry list. Review it periodically and you will appreciate the flimsiness of your fears.  

We are afraid of the same, strangest, silliest things-- clouds, clowns, The Pope, long words like "arachibutyrophobia," which is the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouthPteronophobia is the irrational fear of being tickled by feathers.  
Below.  Cartoonist Gary Larson jokingly named Luposlipaphobia as the fear of being pursued by timber wolves around a kitchen table while wearing socks on a newly-waxed floor .... and Anatidaephobia as the fear of being watched by a duck in his Far Side comix.

Some fears are so common they seem rational.  People fear public speaking and dentists and spiders more than death. Yet we are more likely to be killed by a champagne cork than by a poisonous spider. 

I used to believe that the Boogie Man lived under my bed but could not grab my ankles if I jumped quickly enough from his grasp.  He was also in the alley at night where I emptied the kitchen garbage.  Today I'm more afraid of my plane crashing or my car falling off the side of a mountain road or of varmints biting me.

Like spiders, in particular "The Easter Spider."  

I remember one sweet, sunny Easter morning, when I was dressing for the special day.  I opened my lingerie drawer, and just as I reached for my undies, I noticed the biggest, ugliest, scariest spider crawling just inches from my fingers! 

I panicked! Drew back my hand in horror and ran for a shoe. As I banged away at the brown monster, waves of conscience began to punish my decision. 

  "This could be a good spider," I realized. "Most of them are! They eat other insects that I don't need inside my home. My gosh! This could have been Charlotte, the heroic spider of childhood storytime, that I just murdered." 

 But I kept pounding the poor defenseless creature. 

 Then, finally, I lifted the garment gingerly from the drawer by the heel of my long boot... and dropped the undies to the floor to examine the spider's brown smudgy remains.

He was just a tight ball of fuzzy brown...

Wait! He was just a tight ball of feathery br

Oh my gosh, he was a... feather! A little brown feather. No monster, this was an adornment from my new Easter hat that my cats had knocked from the top of the armoire into an open drawer. 

I had been driven to a feather!  And my own fearful imagination. 

 My monster was just part of my Easter bonnet!

How many fears in our lives are mere feathers?  

Fluffy stuff absolutely without substance. 

So.  Boys and girls,  shall we gather-up the feathers of our fears into white cotton pillow sacks and whale away with gleeful abandon?! Our joy will make fear fly!!
beatles Pictures, Images and Photos

EPILOGUE.  Easter 2012.  A few years ago I participated in  a Native American Vision Quest with Animas Valley Institute. major part of the ten-day adventure was a solo Vision Quest in the wilderness. For four days and nights, I slept alone on the earth under a tarp in a remote wooded area near the cliffs of a canyon in Southeastern Utah, miles away from another  human, alone, and fasting with only water, and three "emergency raisins" to take like a prescription should I become too weak to continue without additional sugar.  

We'd trained, including a Sweat Lodge to talk about our personal fears.  I worried about the typical risks--coyotes, bears, snakes. Instead, during the actual experience, I faced three days of non-stop rain and fretted about staying dry and warm. On the final night, we'd been encouraged to not sleep, to stay awake through the exhaustion and weakness from the fast.  

The night was rare, ie dry and clear, but I was tired and in a fog from the fast.  I lay under  the tarp all night, battling  exhaustion and an unending army of creepy creatures of the night. Spiders of every shape and size and color, hour after hour after hour into the dawn.  I wondered if my flashlight attracted them and whether I should turn it off, but in the moments of experimental darkness, I imagined the scariest scorpions stinging me. The light stayed on, and I witnessed Spider Hell.

Finally, morning arrived. I found surprising strength to pack and carry my  heavy backpack back to  camp where the seven Questors  shared stories.  

Confessions, eg "I ate my raisins."  "I took a forbidden cell phone, which did not work."   "I ate a protein bar over the four days, split it into quarters," from both the oldest and youngest female participants.  And the inevitably boastful "I never got hungry or tired," from the most overweight participant.   We noticed how much weight and size many of us had lost over the four days.

 Then finally someone asked, "Did you see the meteorite showers on the last night!"  "It was like the fireworks," another added.

 The last night? You mean, the night of the living spiders?

No, I had not seen any meteor showers. No stars at all.  I had hidden under my tarp, with my ten-hour debate about whether to go to sleep, whether to turn the flashlight on or off, fretting whether the spiders would bite me, and whether their bites were venomous, etc.

 I had remained with my fears.   I did not even really know it was a spectacular night  outside my familiar, tight space under the tarp.

I felt stupid.  But ordinary, knowing that we are programmed to do what is familiar--however awful or mundane--rather than to take the tiniest step outside our comfort zones into the vast night heavens which are exploding with surprise and beauty.

"A life lived in fear is a life half lived."
Fran in “Strictly Ballroom”
"Quite an experience to live in fear, isn't it?
That's what it is to be a slave." 
Roy Batty in “Blade Runner”


  1. Nice! I like your choice of quotes. Truth be known....I have some pretty sinister spider stories to tell. They have haunted me all of my life. I be very afraid!!!

  2. My bat story will Shirley top any speeding spinning spiders you can knock from your drawers. Speaking of which, one just dropped from his silken thread right behind my computer; I must needs be gone til squishing accessibility becomes available. Today, I pray thee.