Maintain the Web

Please look closely. This is a close-up shot of a spiderweb after rain. The photographer, Patrick Fair, a writing brother living in British Columbia, stands in the boggy woods, the sky is slowly turning blue. He leans in and his lens captures the true nature of the world: every droplet reflects the whole. You can see this reflection in the slightly larger spheres, and it is also true in the tiniest bead strung along these slender filaments. Somewhere, you and I are on this web.

The camera has caught reality: everything is connected. Everything is whole–the light and dark of life. Somewhere, you and I are on this web.When the web holds: everyone has a place to hang on. When the web breaks: all the droplets fall, no matter how big or small, no matter how rich or powerful, or self-important, or lowly and humbled, no matter how desperate for help or demanding that ‘normalcy’ return.

This is a spiderweb that has weathered storm: this is where we are now.

To safely navigate this time of pandemic we must comprehend that our every action in the every day reflects on the whole and is the whole. We can language this a thousand different ways, but societal survival depends on people practicing this understanding. Somewhere, you and I are on this web.

We have been forcibly slowed down and asked to examine this truth. We have been given the opportunity to reconsider everything about how we were living and how we want to live. We are seeing and experiencing what has been hidden, ignored, suppressed, or tolerated in order to preserve the old order of things. Somewhere, you and I are on this web.

The Coronavirus is also a web. The virus hides in droplets propelled by a cough or sneeze. The virus lives on our hands to be deposited on a doorknob, ingested off a fingertip, inhaled in a closed room. This could be a photograph of the invisible replication of viral particles stringing through our bodies. We are irrevocably connected. Somewhere, you and I are on this web.

We are now, or soon will be, asked to re-enter common spaces and trust each other to tend the web. Not everyone is capable of this attitude. Some people behave like angry spiders. They have been lied to and agitated. Empathy and common good has turned to venomous disregard. They are armed with a false sense of autonomy. So those of us who can maintain the web are now charged to do so with increased awareness, fierceness, and compassion.

As I step out I am preparing to take care of myself and those around me. I will wear a mask as a signal of collective concern. I will wash my hands and wear gloves to protect our common environment. And I will replace the ease of facial gestures with words of encouragement, gratitude, and when necessary, do what I can to calm the social field. It’s not okay to shout at store clerks, to invade people’s healthy spaces, to politicize and criticize acts of commonsense. It’s not okay to spit judgment into one another’s faces. I step into common space to be an ally, a guardian, and supporter of everyday kindness.

Making a new world together out of this time apart is going to be hard work, good work, and long work. We will all have full employment in this endeavor. We are weavers: there is weaving to be done. Constant repair is required to withstand the winds of change. More storms will shake us.

Somewhere, you and I are on this web.

We can’t see it: we can be it.

 

33 replies
  1. diane ahuna
    diane ahuna says:

    What an incredible perspective – and a poignant, and stark description….I hope
    the ‘world’ reads this!!

    Reply
    • Christina Baldwin
      Christina Baldwin says:

      Thank you, Diane… see you around, and now we have to recognize Whidbey folks from the eyes up!

      Reply
  2. Jeanne Petrick
    Jeanne Petrick says:

    I’M IN!!! I am on this web with everyone. I can do my part to help maintain and perhaps even make it stronger – I am a weaver. My pledge.
    What a powerful statement and perspective, Christina – thanks for using your gift to express it so clearly. Gratefully.

    Reply
    • Christina Baldwin
      Christina Baldwin says:

      You who live in Chicago have such a different experience of both “staying home,” and “stepping out,” please keep in touch and let me know how it goes for you and Robert.

      Reply
  3. Ben Roberts
    Ben Roberts says:

    “We are now, or soon will be, asked to re-enter common spaces and trust each other to tend the web. Not everyone is capable of this attitude. Some people behave like angry spiders. They have been lied to and agitated. Empathy and common good has turned to venomous disregard. They are armed with a false sense of autonomy. ”

    Indeed. My wife and I had an encounter with just such a person at our local garden supply store last weekend. He had a mask on, but pulled it down, put his fingers in his mouth to pick his teeth or some such thing, and then grabbed his cart and proceeded to continue his shopping. My wife saw this and made a critical remark to me, but loud enough for him to hear. Oops. He got super aggressive and it was all I could do to defuse the situation and keep our distance from him.

    Here’s the part that really stuck with me as a sign of the challenges we face and which you highlight so well in this post: as he finally moved away, he called out twice over his shoulder “typical liberal!” And yes, tending to the web of our mutual well-being is indeed a concern of many “liberals,” but it was still shocking and troubling to see it politicized in that way.

    Reply
    • Christina Baldwin
      Christina Baldwin says:

      Yes, we need to intervene as we can, and be ready to ally up to someone like you taking heat in the moment. The politicizing of civic response/ability is most horrifying around this and other issues. Stay safe, keep going. Thanks for sharing.

      Reply
    • Christina Baldwin
      Christina Baldwin says:

      And do you have photos of spiderwebs? I would love to see a couple. Blessings to you and Marti the purple.

      Reply
    • Christina Baldwin
      Christina Baldwin says:

      As long as you are somewhere knitting (literally) the web, I will have the spirit to continue. Love and blessings, dear friend.

      Reply
  4. George Ziller
    George Ziller says:

    Newcomer introduced to PeerSpirit, Ann and you, Christina, by Marie D.
    Thank you for today insightful web posting. Blessings, G

    Reply
  5. Louisa Rogers
    Louisa Rogers says:

    I have warmed to your posts for years, but I was stopped short by your phrase “angry spiders.” What do you mean by angry spiders? Do you mean creatures willfully expanding, heedless of others? It seems very anthropomorphic to call them “angry.” Seriously, I really don’t know what you mean, and I’d love you to clarify. Thanks.

    Reply
    • Christina Baldwin
      Christina Baldwin says:

      Ah Louisa, this is a turn of phrase written by an English major, not a biology major. I was thinking of my grandson playing the video/app “Angry Birds,” so picked up the phrase from that, and you are correct it is anthropomorphic. Real spiders have instinct and reaction to disturbance or threat, but (as far as we know) they are not motivated by emotions–anger,sadness, or joy. What I mean by the phrase is creatures who are excessively territorial: guarding the web, but not safe-guarding the web.Guarding their stash of whatever resources, but not thinking of the good of all. Thank you for making me dig a little deeper into my own language use.

      Reply
  6. Liz Foster
    Liz Foster says:

    Every single day I look for, & briefly write about, 1~3 positive gifts presented to my often weary soul. Living in OR, I am 67 days into quarantine, happy to know I am contributing to our web, in just this necessary way. Many of my reflections center upon the natural world nearby…I am endlessly comforted by bird song & wind thru the forest.
    Where would I be without these precious constants??
    So grateful for your beautiful insight, here, Christina! My purpose for today has been renewed. That is all I need!
    To both you & Ann, BE WELL.
    💜💜

    Reply
    • Christina Baldwin
      Christina Baldwin says:

      It is the greatest and unmeasurable gesture when something we do provides something someone else needs. That is evidence of the web in our every day lives. We are well if you are well… CB and Ann

      Reply
  7. Catherine Wilson
    Catherine Wilson says:

    I don’t have any pictures of spider webs easily accessible, but Ben’s story (thank you, Ben) reminded me of your words, Christina, in The Power of the Circle. Though your context was different, your words still resonate, and have meaning for me in maintaining the web. “We will tell each other stories. We will help each other do the tasks of our lives. We will wear this stone away without violence. There has been enough violence. We will talk to the granite. We will not give up.” Your courage to talk to the granite, to be an ally, and to keep telling and encouraging stories is a light in this storm. And you have been a light for many, many years in many of my storms. Love and gratitude, Catherine

    Reply
    • Christina Baldwin
      Christina Baldwin says:

      Oh Catherine, thank you for your words and the mirror of my words–we all need help re-membering ourselves into fullness and we go on, especially the part about “We will not give up.” much love and support back to you, and know that I play your music when I need to see myself on a clear day. Blessings. CB

      Reply
  8. Barbara lamb
    Barbara lamb says:

    Thank you for your words and image, dear Christina. I have sent this on to others as a reminder that we all need to find our place, our grounding, and our strength in the web so that we know we are not alone in this. It is the loneliness that can stop us – and the web keeps us connected, and together we can do this. Blessings to you both.

    Reply
  9. phyllis davidson
    phyllis davidson says:

    hello christina… i met you many years ago st your cousin don baldwin’s birthday party… it was a magical event… i lived in port townsend wa.at the time..family living in california brought us back and oh! how we miss the pacific northwest!…. somehow i reconnected with your blog … i sooo enjoy your discussions and of course the photos… i play music (i did) at an nature based preschool in the santa cruz mountains and have a delightful spider song so when we are together again i will share your thoughts with the children… thank you for the opportunity to “drop” into your lives and expand mine…
    phyllis davidson 🥵🎶❤️

    Reply
  10. Gayle Colman
    Gayle Colman says:

    Gorgeous wisdom. Thank you Christina, for the softening, opening, encouragement. We are all on this web. Indeed. Much love.

    Reply
  11. Judy Dixon
    Judy Dixon says:

    Webs are strong Christina, I can attest to that when I try to remove them. They persistently show up again and again. Those of us who value, kindness, compassion, truth, and integrity are the web makers today. Warriors all.

    Reply
    • Christina Baldwin
      Christina Baldwin says:

      Warriors all–you are one of the south enders I count on as there on our community web. Stay well, stay strong.

      Reply
  12. Pat Hoertdoerfer
    Pat Hoertdoerfer says:

    Thank you for your poetic commentary on this spectacular image, Christina!
    It reminded me of a traditional Buddhist and Hindu story, Indra’s Net. Indra’s net is a cosmic network of interdependent interpenetrating things, much like a spider’s web in intricacy. It stretches out indefinitely in all directions. At each node, or crossing point, of the net hangs a single glittering jewel. Since the net itself is infinite in dimension, the jewels are infinite in number and each gem reflects all the other gems in the net. Each of us is a sparkling jewel in Indra’s Net. The story reminds us that every jewel is connected with all the other jewels in the net; thereby every person is intimately connected with all other persons in the universe. Whatever happens to one jewel affects the entire net.
    Stories from the world’s Wisdom Traditions remind us of the profound wisdom that the natural world teaches if we pause, look closely, and lean in.
    With gratitude and blessings, Pat

    Reply
    • Christina Baldwin
      Christina Baldwin says:

      Ah dear Pat, I am so grateful for you added wisdom here, and the reminder of Indra’s net. Blessings back to you in all the ways you carry on.

      Reply
  13. Susan Schoch
    Susan Schoch says:

    Thank you, Christina. It is so challenging to stand up to the anger of those who are “excessively territorial.” Compassion for their wounds as well as strength not to wilt under attack – your lyrical and wise words always inspire me to look for ways I can do better. I’ll pass them along and the web will shimmer.

    Reply

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