The Funnel Weavers

10-05-2015 | Lindsay

On the morning of the autumnal equinox we awoke to mist. It curled around the sunchokes and blackberries in the garden and floated amid the forest oaks and maples. In the early twilight, the mist hung like a gray gauze curtain over the lingering dark. It was not soundless, but deeply quiet. As the sun rose over the ridge there appeared in the grasses of the sheep field and in the tufts clustering at the base of the fruit trees ethereal, small dwellings, woven of pale silk. They dotted the landscape: delicate diminutive domes, cloud castles.

These are the homes of tiny grass spiders, who are funnel weavers. Unlike the orb weavers, whose webs stretch high in geometric, spoked precision between branches and twigs, funnel weavers create gauzy works of art low to the ground. Most of the time, we pass them by unknowing. When morning dew dresses their webs in droplets of sun-kissed light, they appear out of the mist, like miniature, spangled Brigadoons.

This weekend past, some of us participated in "Grief, Longing, and Tending the Soul of the World." Gently and ably led by Cheryl Hellner and Jim Hall, it was not an easy retreat. Grasping longings and griefs in our trembling hands requires courage, the necessity of walking whole-heartedly into a dark realm.

It is autumn, the season of mystery and transformation, when unseen forces work upon the forest preparing it to rest; perhaps also upon our broken hearts, quietly, in the dark. Khaled Hosseini writes in The Kite Runner, "I wondered if that was how forgiveness budded, not with the fanfare of epiphany, but with pain gathering up its things, packing up, and slipping away unannounced in the middle of the night."

Grace does happen. On an equinox morning, mist rises, sunlight peeks over the ridge, and the funnel weavers appear.