The Lenten season is to me the most mystical of all the seasons and, thereby, the most beautiful in its power to evoke human feeling by bridging seeming opposites: sorrow and joy, death and life. How is it that life comes forth from death, which in the Christian interpretation, means resurrection from the tomb? Easter, which comes forth from Lenten season is the most beautiful in its deep-down freshness and fragility of holding together seeming irreconcilables. The word lent, which means season of spring, bridges the gap between winter’s dark and spring’s light that rebirths and renews the fragile living web of connectedness of all things. This is sacred work. To be a willing participant in the constructing and sustaining of this web is a work of love of self to God and to each other and one’s own soul – the theme of this year’s Lenten blog is relationship/friendship: “one of the most important relationships we grow in our lives”.
My sister Lena, ten years my senior (now deceased) was not only my sibling but my dear friend and life-long mentor. Among the countless things we shared was a longing to interpret and translate the world into language, which of course is impossible but is meaningful work. Living her 84 years on a working farm, Lena was a close observer of the mystery of the natural world, and she counted non-human forms also as kin. She lived the assignment to “put beauty where there is none” (Dostoievski), and taught beauty by living the beauty of loving relationship. Among her many poems, “About Building Bridges” is one of my favorites.
About Building Bridges
Near the long window where the Jew vine hangs,
a stream of sunshine streaks through
and trips over a tightrope
spun by a furtive spider.
I was unaware of its presence
until the flicking sun disclosed its meshwork
among the Jew’s purple leave
and lengthy span to the philodendron.
I ponder the extraordinary sweep of the web
and the spider’s meticulous ability
to construct such a bridge sans faux pas
whether by percipience or perchance.
Not having the truth to myself,
I acknowledge the spider alone
can justify its labors
by the mere fact it spins
if for no other reason
than to prove its intellect
and document its savvy
for making dexterous transits upside down
on a bridge held in place by glue.
A little white dog hurtles into the room,
and snooping among the trailing leaves
breaks the web from its single mooring;
It slowly curls toward the ceiling,
a drifting filament bearing a tiny spider
then, suddenly, before my eyes,
on a silken plumbline
dangles the resolute spinner
building a bridge.