It all began as I watched her create her art, outside on my porch. I was fascinated at her steady and strong work to create something both practical and beautiful. To watch her delicate movements was like watching a dance…it was beautiful enough that I couldn’t take my eyes off her.
This was strange, because I had once been afraid of her. That fear turned to fascination, then admiration, and then a mutual understanding and friendship. Because I had never seen her as an individual, nor had I ever taken the time to notice her distinct gifts, personality and beauty.
In our imagined conversation I asked her for her name. She told me it was Emily. I expressed my thanks for allowing me to watch her. She graciously, and somewhat blushingly allowed me within the confines of her workspace, but not too far. I frightened her, she said.
“I frighten YOU?”, I asked.
She seemed shocked at my response and asked me to take a moment and look at myself from her point of view. I was much larger, unknown, and she has children to protect and feed. My presence alone is a threat not just to her, but to her entire family. Having that “epiphany” I said that I understood, and kept my ground…a comfortable distance between us.
“But I’ve always been afraid of YOU.”, I said.
She smiled and looked at me as if I were a small child. How could I fear her, she wondered?
“Because I didn’t know you”, I said. “You are foreign to me, being even a different species”.
Her movements were furtive sometimes, and seemingly aggressive other times…she startled me. AND I had heard she loved and lived in the dark spaces, poison was her weapon…to say nothing of her startling appearance, which strangely, as we spoke together, began to work on me as more exotic beauty than ugliness.
She smiled again, pausing in her work. She asked if I didn’t see any sort of aggression I might feel from her was merely an instinct to be aware of something that could, without even realizing it, kill her?
And once again I had an epiphany. My fear and distance were based on untruth. My hate was based on tradition and misinformation.
Had I but taken the time to know a single spider, I would have had different feelings about all spiders.
Emily weaves a silken stained-glass window each evening; it is a wonder to behold. Practical (not only food for her family, but keeps a certain amount of bugs away from the house) and beautiful; new each night. We not only now live in peace, we live in harmony…she has become a friend.
How many faces, seen through the years, have I written off because I didn’t take the time to see what they created, or to ask why they behaved with fear or aggression toward me? How many people have I written off because not only did they not look or behave like me. How many have I ignored because I did not understand them, I didn’t WANT to understand them. How many people have I seen as different, and therefore inferior to me. God forgive me. And God forgive us all.
“Emily” has taught me a great lesson in God’s charge to love even my enemies. She has taught me that loving even the least significant (from OUR perspectives) you love God.
I let Emily know that I’d still be wary of her, if she were in my house…she said the feeling was mutual.
“For you were all baptized into The King, and have put on Himself. So now there is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female…you are all unified with The King, Jesus. And if you belong to The King, then you are also Abraham’s descendants; heirs to the promise God gave to him. GALATIANS 3:27-29