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Conversations With a Spider

For the past couple of years I have spent two hours, one Friday per month, in a Spiritual Direction Group. There are four of us in this little band of contemplatives, led by Nancy, our Spiritual Director. Each month we have a short experience, followed by silence, reflection, response, prayer, and more silence. It is one of the most enriching aspects of my life, and it has brought me great joy and insights.  


On one of our first gatherings, Nancy gave us the instructions to head out into nature on her beautiful property, find a place that seems to be calling you to come sit, and do just that. Sit, look around, and see what is there for you.  Listen, without expectations. It’s called Wilderness Contemplation. 


I love an assignment like this because you can’t possibly do it wrong, and it leaves a lot open to interpretation.  I get to be as woo-woo and magical as I want, no judgment.  So on this day, naturally I had a conversation with a spider.


She was a tiny little thing with big eyes and a greenish body.  She perched herself on the arm of my camping chair.  I asked her what she would like me to know.  I gotta say, she just stared at me and I did consider whether I was in fact a little crazy for engaging like this.  Also, I have to admit there was some fear.  I didn’t know what kind of spider this was.  She could very well bite me! But I stayed with it, tuned to my breath with the question hanging in the air, and slowly some insights began to gather at the edges of my mind. Here are some things that occurred to me as I nervously stared at this spider and she stared back at me:

  • Life is complicated. And miraculous.
  • The unknown can be scary.
  • Stillness reveals life.
  • Fear and awe can, and often do, co-exist. 


But then the serenity was interrupted when she decided to leave the arm of the chair and land on my knee! My mind was racing with what should I do? I’m enjoying her wisdom, but I don’t entirely trust her! I started trying to think of a way to politely escort her off my knee without harm.  Then eventually, as she hopped on my journal so I could easily lower her to the ground, it was as if she was giving me one more piece of wisdom:

  • Just wait–the answer will present itself in time.


So do I believe I was psychically connecting with a Charlotte-like arachnid?  No.  I realize the stillness and silence gave my mind time to calm down enough to switch gears into a different state.  I’m sure someone smarter and more knowledgeable than I could explain what happens via brain waves, intelligence, left brain, right brain, etc. but personally, I’m content with the mystery of wisdom arising through the opportunity and openness of spending intentional time in nature. Each of those insights spoke to different questions on my heart at that time, and they brought me great comfort.  


Wanna give it a try?


 I invite you to turn off distractions, deepen your breath, and close your eyes for a few moments as you settle into your body.


Now gaze at this photo.  Let your eyes drift from one area to the next as you breathe.  Allow yourself to be drawn to some part of the picture.  Ask this picture what it would like you to know or consider. Pay attention to what comes up for you as you sit with it. There is no wrong way to do this. You can do a bit of journaling if you like.

Don’t worry if you feel silly or nothing comes to mind.  It can take time to remove some preconceived ideas about activities like this or build trust in your intuition. Life doesn’t offer tons of opportunities to sit with spiders or stare at pictures. You have to get intentional about it and seek them out.  But take it from me, it enhances life in infinite ways. 


Wonder and awe replace cynicism and worry when you engage with practices that open your mind to the magic within and all around you.  


I took this photo recently when I was walking around Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center here in South Austin.  It was a moment that just struck me as beautiful and full of metaphor and meaning.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.


Experiences like these are at the heart of what made me want to create a meaningful yoga retreat at the Wildflower Center.  I have included time in nature in the flow of our day.  These insights come not from spiders or archways but our own inner light.  


Our eyes shine a light out into the world, and the world reflects it back with the right words, images, sensations, and symbols that bring us back to our deepest truths. When we provide stillness, quiet, and nature, our mind has a chance to replenish our soul and reconnect to our inner knowing.  


I hope you, or a special someone who identifies as a woman in your life, comes to Return to Your Light: Women's Yoga Retreat on December 2 and take some time, right before one of the busiest times of year, to get still and replenish your soul light. It will be time well spent. Early registration discount ends November 2, so I encourage you to register today. Space is limited in participant numbers, but abundant in yoga, healing, community, laughter, and joy. 


May your soul light shine, and may nature reflect your inner wisdom back to your calm and steady mind.


Much love,


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