We tend to think that because the problems facing our world are so enormous and so complex, that our response must also be big. Our impulse to action is both admirable and necessary. We often have the necessary passion, energy and intention for big actions. But, it is also often the case that because of one or more circumstances, we aren’t in a position to do the “big” things – due to age, health, employment, finances, geography, and/or the needs of others who depend upon us. What then do we do? I suspect that these believed limitations of our actions are not limitations at all, but rather a lesson pointing to a greater truth – the interconnectedness of all sentient beings. It is not wars, hurricanes, earthquakes, or politicians we do or don’t agree with that can and will change the world, but the everyday healing of the human heart. In truth, our minds and our hearts are transformed by “small,” seemingly inconsequential, everyday experiences. Yet, when big things happen, we often forget and underestimate the power of the small things.
How spiders build their webs
The spider begins with a single silken thread, released into the wind. If its aim is true, the thread is carried by the wind onto perhaps a branch or building corner, where it catches hold. The spider then secures the thread at the original point and walks along the thread to the second point, releasing a second looser thread as it goes. As the web construction continues, more framing occurs and the spider lays down threads in a radial pattern and, finally, into the spiral pattern we recognize. If the spider retreats from the web to a separate nest, it carries with it a single signal line, which will indicate activity in the web. Spiders have the innate ability to differentiate between the vibrations sensed in the web; for example, the vibration created by a leaf or twig is different from that of potential prey. Insects, too, each have their own characteristic vibration and the spider can distinguish between dangerous insects and regular prey. There is no portion of the web in which the vibration is not felt.
Web of Life
Our world is a beautiful web of life, a pristine, responsive web of interconnectedness, in which every vibration is felt to a greater or lesser degree. We are born into this web and like the insects, we each have our own particular vibration. In every experience and interaction that vibration is apparent. At first, we are one with the web, but as the ego emerges, we learn to separate, to differentiate ourselves from each other. This is a necessary development on the road to self-realization, but it can nevertheless create a sense of unattached, free-floating, self-involvement. Our distress in life is caused to a great degree by our sense of disconnectedness.
At birth, we “emerge” into an existing web of relationships of family, neighborhood, family friends and perhaps church. In early childhood, we begin to build our own unique relationships, one silken thread at a time. During our lifetimes, we feel tension and vibration in the web and may also sense slackness in the web. We are blessed with friends, or we experience loss, or unfortunate disagreements occur, or we fall out of connection with a particular person.
Egocentrism, racism, tribalism, misogyny, and homophobia all create conflict and weaken the fabric of the web. Wherever the web is torn or tattered, be the web personal or global, something or someone can and will fall through. We need not look far to see the effects of a torn and tattered web, and this condition is not caused in essence by unthinkable disasters. On the contrary, these unthinkable disasters seem to draw us together, to bring out the best, the heroism, in each of us, times when we think less about what separates us and more about what we all have, or desire to have, in common. Unfortunately, when the dust clears, we often return to our old ways. In the heat of the moment, all we can see is the need of the other and how we might serve that need. When the heat cools, we may return to thinking, that some exacerbating circumstance related to that person created their problem in the first place. And, we oddly think, it could never happen to us, for x, y, or z reason. What is happening in the human heart?
Webs Seen and Unseen
Our interconnectedness is both not-subtle and subtle, seen and unseen. As physical beings, we are all governed by the same physical laws of the universe that govern the stars and galaxies. On our tiny planet, we are weighed down/affected by gravity, we feel the sensations of heat and cold, we witness the effects of light, we experience the interdependence of species, among many other things. These are some of the qualities of a physical web in the phenomenal world. Psychologically/emotionally, we experience love, forgiveness, anger, fear, jealousy, apathy, melancholy, contentment, joy and happiness. We labor daily to navigate these constantly changing waters, as we search for peace within. The qualities, the hallmarks of the spiritual/mystical web are intuition, compassion, truth, trust, faith, and unity consciousness. These qualities transcend the phenomenal world in their constancy.
Mending the Web
Given the changeable, shifting nature of the effects of physical laws and the emotional and psychological states we experience, we look to the qualities of the mystical for instruction in mending the web. Prayer, like meditation, prepares us for the work to be done, because we put our faith in a greater consciousness. Prayer and meditation open us up to clear thinking, forgiveness, compassion, and thoughtful action – for we are released from small thinking and small dreams by a withdrawal of ego. This shift to an examined, managed ego yields a fresh, new ability to see and appreciate all points of view and consequences of our actions – a boon to our understanding and healing of relationships, personal and global.
And, so we are ready, fortified and released into mending our portion of the web, knowing that in strengthening the web we interact with daily, in whatever degree and to whatever extent we are able, we strengthen the whole – the Great Web. I believe that what MIT professor Edward Lorenz, father of Chaos Theory and the butterfly effect proposed is true,
“A butterfly flaps its wings in the Amazonian jungle, and subsequently, sets off a tornado in Texas.”
Each small word, thought or action we utter, entertain or take, echoes through time, through the web, yielding good or evil effects. For each of these, we are responsible, either to do or to avoid. For this reason, we have the urge to respond when unthinkable things happen. We are called to action by the best part of ourselves, the part that intuits our interconnectedness. As we daily create vibrations far and near in the Great Web, let them be for healing, for understanding, for forgiveness, for respect and for love.