The Humble Spider

The spider is a creature which many modern folk fear.  Interestingly in THE PHILOKALIA the Fathers several times call us to contemplate the spider and praise it for its virtues.   St. John of Karpathos (7th C ?) says:

“Think of the spider and compare it with a human being. Nothing is more weak and powerless than a spider. It has no possessions, makes no journeys overseas, does not engage in litigation, does not grow angry, and amasses no savings. Its life is marked by complete gentleness, self-restraint and extreme stillness. It does not meddle in the affairs of others, but minds its own business; calmly and quietly it gets on with its own work. To those who love idleness it says, in effect: ‘If anyone refuses to work, he should have nothing to eat’ (2 Thess. 3:10).

The spider is far more silent than Pythagoras, whom the ancient Greeks admired more than any other philosopher because of the control that he exercised over his tongue.  Although Pythagoras did not talk with everyone, yet he did speak occasionally in secret with his closest friends; and often he lavished nonsensical remarks on oxen and eagles. He abstained altogether from wine and drank only water.

The spider, however, achieves more than Pythagoras: it never utters a single word, and abstains from water as well as from wine. Living in this quiet fashion, humble and weak, never going outside or wandering about according to its fancy, always hard at work – nothing could be more lowly than the spider. Nevertheless the Lord, ‘who dwells on high but sees what is lowly’ (Ps. 113: 5-6. LXX), extends His providence even to the spider, sending it food every day, and causing tiny insects to fall into its web.”  (The Philokalia, Kindle Loc. 9154-68)

See also:  The Spider: Stillness of Heart

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2 Responses to The Humble Spider

  1. Pingback: The Spider: Stillness of Heart | Fr. Ted's Blog

  2. Pingback: Insects are gross « Amanda Brandt

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