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  Monday January 26th, 2015    

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Of spider webs and dust (10/18/2009)
By Janet Lewis Burns
“We need to learn to borrow from nature rather than steal from it.” “There’s no time for untested technologies that may not be a fit for the earth. We’ve got to use technologies that have already been tested by nature herself.”

-Janine Benyus On The Virtues Of Imitating Nature.

Autumn remembers the delicate silence of leaves letting go, like calendar pages falling away, parchment promises of a renewed spring. They soon become as ones’ ancestors, emanating from dust to dust.

Man-made dwellings eventually decay, blow away, or burn to the ground. It’s difficult to accept the loss of a church being torn down and forgotten. Well, it happens more and more frequently, as memberships decline and it becomes impractical to maintain an aged structure. As long as there are people who fondly remember, the heart of a lost congregation beats on.

When our family gets together we often make our way to the cemetery where our parents and ancestors are laid to rest. That was the case when my youngest sister Jean and her daughter Jenny traveled from Eugene, Oregon, in August for a very overdue reunion. Three generations, we women and girls rumbled over familiar, washboard, country roads to the Bethany Moravian Church cemetery, thankful that it’s always well maintained.

In the bare, grassy space of our Christian upbringing, a marker is now the only visible memorial of the former Bethany Church, which was razed in 1979. Looking through the photos I took during Jean’s stay, the many shots of us posing by family graves seemed overdone. When we visit a cemetery, we pause at the engraved granite names of our loved ones, fuss with flowers or artificial tokens of respect, say a prayer or shed a tear, and then we move on. How sad that those who haven’t grasped the reality of new life, must walk away and leave their loved ones buried there in layers of earth.

It seems sometimes that, if you sit long enough out in the open air, a spider web might secure you to your lawn chair. I think spiders have gotten a bum rap as gross intruders, messing corners of ceilings and walls. Housewives down through the ages have been sweeping webs away as though they are unsightly spoilers of a well- kept home. Though I still squish a spider here and there in my home, as one pitter-patters across my path, I usually ignore them. Who am I to take such a magnificent, ingenious life?

As parents ogle their growing children as accomplishments, how much greater must the Creator’s ardor be for the natural world. How deep is His sorrow, as the earthly custodians of the infinite universe carelessly destroy, hoard, and disrespect earth’s resources?

One of the greatest stirs that dust has caused in nature’s history would be the Dust Bowl of the Southern Plains of America, in the 1930s, so-called one of the greatest man-induced ecological collapses in civilization’s history. The primary loss of topsoil in the mid-thirties was caused by the intrusion of farmers who planted crops where they shouldn’t have been, causing 60 to 70 dust storms rather than two or three. With the grasses and herbs and their extensive root systems gone, the plains simply blew away.

Mother Nature and its ecosystems are vastly deteriorating due to assumed dominance and wanton neglect by the human race. No human engineer or technician could ever enhance or revise God’s master plan, the miracles of the natural world.

Consider the spider. Its web is stronger than man-made metals, with a stretch ability twice that of nylon. The spider spins in one night the web that is its brief world.

As human beings, we have the capacity to choose what to tear down and what to preserve. Somewhere from to dust, mankind has renounced that privilege.

Janet Burns lives in Lewiston. She can be reached at patandjanburns@embarqmail.com. 


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