Journey 276: Celebrating Mom

My mom’s birthday was September 25. I got to see her that day and drop a gift by. See Journey 268 Today my sisters, two nieces, a nephew and four of my mother’s great-grandchildren joined me in celebrating my mom in the way she most enjoys…hanging out together, chatting, and feasting…with a couple of shopping trips thrown in for good measure. 

 

Mom chose one of her favorite restaurants for her birthday dinner, Golden Corral. We have some family jokes around eating at this popular buffet-style restaurant, but honestly, everyone can eat their favorite foods here, whether that’s pizza, ham, a salad or chocolate dipped strawberries. As always, the best part of dining together is the merry flow of conversation around the table. I was graced to sit between two handsome young men, my great-nephews Ethan and Kaleb. 
 

After lunch, Ethan and Papa Walter returned home while the rest of us visited the Spirit Halloween store just down the street. My niece Ashley and her husband Jon and my sister Debbie throw a huge Halloween party every year. It’s amazing and fun for the family, and time consuming for them, but something they enjoy. They are always on the look out for props for decor. October, fittingly enough, is also Ashley’s birthday month. She scored an early birthday present today from her mom when she found this animated three headed dog. Kaleb, who is nonplussed by all the ghosts, zombies and ghouls, made me laughed as he cheerfully linked arms with this fellow, pictured below.   


 We made another stop on the way back to mom’s, so other family members could stock up on curcumin. We all have aches and pains and the many other ailments that this supplement combats makes it well worth trying out. We are considering it our own group study. 

 

  
Back at mom’s we spent the rest of the afternoon together. The kids roamed the backyard, playing with Scotty the border collie. Jon, who is an absolute sweetheart, rocked little Lola to sleep. Ethan created Doctor Who themed video games on his iPad while we discussed that awesome show. I love the conversations that the adults have, on every subject imaginable. And I love the conversations that I have with the children in the family, whether they are two years old or ten. I not only value their input and perspective, and appreciate their intelligence and cleverness, I get the opportunity to share with them as I listen to what’s going on in their worlds. 
 

   
Ethan, who is ten years old, and a 5th grader this year, is an incredibly bright boy, a whiz at math and science, tender hearted toward his friends and family, and not afraid to share with me today that he has been teased because of his intelligence and giftedness. This fellow Whovian has been called weird. How happy I was to share my own weirdness with him and encourage him to rejoice in his uniqueness. The whole family chimed in, relating their own stories. As his dad quipped, “Who wants to be normal?” I don’t! My family is full of the extraordinary, the poets, the artists, the writers, the misfits. We happen to like our family the way it is. 

 
 It was, with such unique souls gathered together, an extraordinary day indeed, presided over by my mother. I am grateful for her, and her gracious and creative heart and soul that shines so brightly, illuminating the path so that we all can follow. And I am grateful for my family, those who gathered today and those who couldn’t join us, each and every one a bright and beautiful soul, unique….and yes, weird…in their own quirky and delightful ways. I wouldn’t have us be anything else. 
 
  
 

Journey 173: Sebastian the Spider

I had a fun, quirky journey today, that sought me out and invited me along. Many people hang objects from their rear view mirrors….stuffed animals, necklaces, angel charms, tassels from their graduation caps. I don’t normally have anything hanging from mine. However, when I slid into the driver’s seat in my car this morning, after Zumba class, I discovered something dangling there below the mirror.

He wasn’t present when I left the car, but he was busy creating now. Fine silken threads ran from the mirror to the steering wheel, and the little guy was himself clinging to a strand attached to the mirror…a thread so fine he appeared to be floating in the air. He grew still and I became thoughtful, watching him.

spider thread

That out of focus dark blob beneath the mirror is Sebastian. My phone camera couldn’t figure out what I was trying to focus on.

He was tiny, and dark brown, a variety of garden spider that is making itself at home in my backyard paradise. My car is parked in front of my home, under a shade tree. With the high temps today, I left the passenger side windows down to allow heat to escape. Apparently, my little friend blew in through the open window, on his light-as-air strand of silk. I have never had a fear or sense of disgust toward spiders. They fascinate me. Missouri only has two venomous spiders, the brown recluse and the black widow. I am familiar with both and recognize them when I see them. This tiny specimen was harmless.

And so an odd friendship developed today, between the spider, whom I promptly named Sebastian, and me. The motion of the car disturbed him slightly, so he retreated to the mirror, where he crouched for a good portion of the day. I was in and out of the car frequently, taking care of business, running errands, going to and from the office and to a closing late this afternoon. At each stop, I left the windows down, so that the heat wouldn’t dry little Sebastian out, and so that he could leave, anytime he chose to.

spider mirror

Those dark little bumps at the bottom of the mirror are Sebastian…and his reflection.

However, each time I slid into the car, I checked the mirror, and there he was, watching me. Or at least, I think he was. Occasionally, as I drove, he would unfurl his long legs and crawl up onto the mirror. I would speak kindly to him, and I swear, he would do a little spider shimmy dance on the mirror before returning to the edge to perch. He appeared to be showing off! I assured him that he was safe with me. I don’t like to snuff out life, even among insects or snakes. I’ll swat a mosquito if I have to, and even then I try to warn them off before doing that. I can’t say that I invite ants or mice or slugs into my home, but I respect all life, and look for alternative ways to deal with unwelcome guests.

As the day progressed, I expected Sebastian to leave. I smiled each time I returned to the car and spotted him there on the mirror. Yet, as I drove home at 6:00, ready to park the car for the night, I didn’t want to leave him shut up inside. There were two reasons for that: I expected him to get busy again creating a web once the car was quiet and still, and, there was no food source for him inside the car. I didn’t want to find him curled up dead the next morning. As I parked again beneath the tree, I picked up a couple of sheets of paper, and talking to him, carefully transferred Sebastian from the mirror to the paper.

I rested the paper against the rough bark of the tree, thinking he would scurry away. He didn’t. Stretching out his legs, he seemed content. I was walking slowly to the front porch, with the intention of anchoring the sheet of paper to bench with a flower pot, when nature took care of the situation. A gust of wind rattled the paper and suddenly, Sebastian was airborne, a tiny speck of brown lifting with the breeze, and then he was gone, carried gently to a new home where he could build his web.

spider sebastian

Finally, a clear image of Sebastian, resting on sheets of paper.

What an intriguing journey. I can’t explain why Sebastian spent the whole day on my rear view mirror, or the sense of peace and joy I felt at having him there. I spent a few minutes this evening looking up the symbolism for spiders. We associate words with animals. A dove represents peace, a dog loyalty, a horse strength, cats independence. I wondered what spiders signified. I know many people are afraid of spiders and would have very negative words for them.

This is what I found. Spiders are ancient symbols of mystery, power and growth. They are also considered symbols of feminine energy, patience and creativity. Dreaming of spiders, or dare I say, connecting with a spider while awake, is a reminder that just as a spider weaves and constructs its web, so I make choices that weave the threads of my life together, creating my story. Sebastian’s presence quietly challenged me to be mindful of the life I am weaving and the story I am telling.

I also discovered that the often maligned spider is a symbol for infinity. With its eight legs, and eight eyes for most species, the spider is associated with the number eight, which represents cycles, the passage of time and growth. The eight, turned on its side, becomes the symbol for infinity. I am very aware of that symbol, as I encountered it often last year connected to my word Beyond.

I am grateful for that little spider. I enjoyed his company today. And without saying a word, unless his dances were attempts at pantomime, he offered wisdom to me and nudged my curiosity, which always leads to a learning moment. Yes, I see things differently. I watch for lessons from the Divine, think about the strangest things, connect the dots….and marvel. And, I am okay with that! I am embracing myself, quirks, talents, and flaws, and rejoicing in the uniqueness that is me. In doing so, I can also sincerely appreciate the uniqueness of others, of all life….even the uniqueness of little spiders who blow in through my window and hang out for awhile. I wouldn’t trade these journeys for anything!

spider web infinity