The Web


We had only been away for about five days, but in the damp September air, conditions proved perfect for our backyard spider to spin an elaborate web to trap unwary late-summer insects.

Because of the woods and the moisture of the nearby lake, nature’s growth thrives here.  We keep a constant vigilance to make sure it doesn’t take over our little bit of civilization. The shoot of a young sapling can spring up to knee-size in our garden within a few weeks.   It may be an odd thought, but it seems that even hair grows faster in this setting (although admittedly, the nearby village still has its share of bald pates, so this is an untested theory).

Our humble arachnid is named after the Greek woman who so flaunted her weaving skills she was punished by the goddess Athena.  There is such near-perfection in the web’s design, it’s understandable that it provokes jealousy.

The web is beautiful, but it can be easily destroyed.   It’s like the fragile interconnectedness which links all of us, the silvery web-strands of virtual connections we now take for granted as part of our world.  It’s so amazing and powerful and beautiful that we can easily become like Arachne who, with hubris, challenges Divinity.

The Legend of the Spider and the Silken Thread Held in God’s Hand

There’s an old Danish Legend with a lesson for us all
Of an ambitious spider and his rise and fall,
Who wove his sheer web with intricate care
As it hung suspended somewhere in midair,
Then in soft, idle luxury he feasted each day
On the small foolish insects he enticed as his prey.

Growing ever more arrogant and smug all the while
He lived like a ‘king’ in self-satisfied style –
And gazing one day at the sheer strand suspended
He said “I don’t need this” so he recklessly rended
The strand that had held his web in its place
And with sudden swiftness the web crumpled in space.

And that was the end of the spider who grew
So arrogantly proud that he no longer knew
That it was the strand that reached down from above
Like the cord of God’s grace and His infinite love
That links our lives to the great unknown.
For man cannot live or exist on his own.

And this old legend with simplicity told
Is a moral as true as the Legend is old.

Anonymous, found in an old Bible circa 1940



Love, Honour, and (ahem) Obey


“Be watchful, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong.  Let all that you do be done in love.”        I Corinthians 16:13-14

Our garden statue elicited a comment from the young children of friends when their family came to visit one weekend – “That’s Mr. and Mrs. Prins reading the Bible together!”

Over the 48 years of our marriage, Scripture reading has been part of almost every day.    Recently, coming across our wedding Bible, my husband pointed out the inscription of our chosen wedding text, and we looked at it with new eyes.   The officiating minister veered off to the theme of family trees (which would have been more appropriate for my sister’s wedding the following year: they dreamed of establishing a tree nursery.)  My bemused co-workers asked whether we would be having kids right away.  But we would have done well to have really meditated on its wisdom of that text instead, taking it to heart right from the start.

The wording in the wedding vows was also a little problematic, as I was appalled by an archaic use of the word obey in the wedding vows.  We were early in the era of women’s liberation, after all.  I pictured being dragged reluctantly into situations where I had little or no input on the decision-making.

On the condition that my soon-to-be husband would never take advantage, as he promised, I did agree to obey.  And, in truth, he never has.  As time went on, I began to understand that the word obey also carries a connotation of listening closely, being alert to tone and stress and nuance.  Being watchful, having faith, being strong for each other in tough times, having courage to face what sometimes seems like insurmountable obstacles in a relationship.  There’s wisdom in the text and in the vows we made that day.

In the naivete of youth, you don’t always understand that there are many forces that have the potential to tear a marriage apart, that constant vigilance is necessary to maintain the health of a relationship, that we had to work, individually and together, to keep the claims of extended family, parenting, church and career in their rightful places.

But God is faithful.  And God is good, even though we are not.  And, thankfully, it’s that Love that’s cradled this marriage, throughout the years.