A tapestry woven as a spider spins a web

Bird Droppings January 14, 2012
A tapestry woven as the spider spins

“For certain fortunate people there is something that transcends all classifications of behavior, and that is awareness, something which rises from the programming of the past, and that is spontaneity; and something that is more rewarding than games and that is intimacy. But all of these may be frightening and even perilous to the unprepared. Perhaps they are better off as they are, seeking their solutions in popular techniques of social action, such as ‘togetherness.’ This may mean that there is no hope for the human race, but there is hope for individual members of it.” Dr. Eric Berne, Games People Play, 1964

The title intrigued me as I was sitting here 3:33 AM pondering which direction to go in this morning’s writing I was thinking about students, parents and teachers and how so often the intertwining of personalities produce the fabric of the day. I recall in a graduate class a professor friend used the term or representation of weaving. Our lives are a tapestry being woven each day as we go. Last night as I checked my email I opened a website I had found several years back of a two scientists who enlisted a group of weavers in Madagascar to assist in weaving from the golden orb spider’s dragline silk, the outer strands used in building a web an eleven by four tapestry. Literally millions of golden orb spiders were milked of their silk to produce this masterpiece. It took over four years to collect enough silk and only one other time in history had this been done and that weaving had been lost in a European Museum many years ago. In order to find the story, “Spiders Wranglers Weave” is the web title.

“Each person designs his own life, freedom gives him the power to carry out his own designs, and power gives the freedom to interfere with the designs of others. “ Dr. Eric Berne

Only a few days ago walking down the hall wall I got into a discussion on wool and weaving. For many years I was directly involved in the sheep industry with raising breeding and of course shearing the sheep, and selling lambs and wool. I traveled nation-wide photographing and talking to producers and writing about the sheep and the wool industry. I met over the years many hand spinners and weavers as I traveled. Some were artisans spinning yarn as fine as silk and weaving literally pieces of art work. Back in the day we had a ewe a Hampshire cross ewe that was appeared black, however when you sheared her the fleece was chinchilla gray. For many years back a dear friend would get that fleece each year for her spinning and weaving. Somewhere in a box is a small ball of yarn my oldest son spun one afternoon when he was six with that fleece, my friend showing and helping him manipulate his fingers on the spinning wheel.
Life as Dr. Donna Andrews, chairperson of the Special education department at Piedmont College commented in class is a weaving an intertwining of events and people I recall from many years ago in her class.

“A man is the sum of his actions, of what he has done, of what he can do, nothing else. “ Mahatma Gandhi

One of Gandhi’s methodologies of protest was to spin and weave his own cloth rather than rely on industrial produced material. Many other intricate thoughts were woven in as well; spinning is for many a form of meditation. The process of weaving, creating and designing a piece is literally a painting of a picture with thread and yarn. The spider silk tapestry is priceless and currently resides in a museum.

“A man’s action is only a picture book of his creed.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

So as we weave our cloth in life we are seen by the fabric, the pattern, and the methods we use to make that work of art or piece of cloth.

“When power leads man towards arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the area of man’s concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses. “ John F. Kennedy

With each progress report we call students, parents or guardians to discuss issues and grades. I speak with several parents over the phone and in person with each report. I walked through my room after school every day reading a poster that has been hanging around now on my wall where ever I end up for 30 years or more, Children Learn what they live. My thoughts as I sit today pondering Dr. Laura Nolte’s words on my ancient poster and thinking of weaving. While one weaves silk another weaves burlap in life. Silk has many great attributes as does burlap and the applications and uses vary. To spin hemp into twine and weave the burlap is as much a skill as the artisans who weave the silk threads into cloth. The weaving and material made is not the issue but it is that weaving that is occurring. Only in our semantics and perceptions are the qualities lessened between silk and burlap. For it is in that effort that is being made, to produce a life and direction or history that reality is formed.

“Understand clearly that when a great need appears a great use appears also; when there is small need there is small use; it is obvious, then, that full use is made of all things at all times according to the necessity thereof.” Dogen Kenji, Zen master

Recently I used the word direction and drew criticism from a teacher trying to explain that choosing a direction in a journey and not truly having a destination is sometimes a meaningless effort. For some just going is the norm. I actually carry a compass in my briefcase and some would find that odd. My reality is that you never know when you can help someone find the way. I always speak of the journey being more important versus the destination but there is a generally point to head towards. When building a house first you build walls you determine where doors and windows are needed and add them as you go. A really good builder knows ahead and plans for doors and windows and designed properly a house can have huge windows and great doors and movement in and out occurs continually.
Many years ago I was sitting alongside a fence in a field far away from houses and people I watched a spider spin a web. We see webs all around I was told there are thousands of spiders per acre in any field. Many of the spiders are minute and nearly microscopic. Anyhow the spider climbed to a point and dropped leaving a strand of silk climbed and dropped and so forth building a base for her web. Next came the cross lines and soon a web was built over an hour or so in the process. We see webs and easily sweep them away but the design and care in making is engrained in the spider. Life is a weaving a spinning a web of sorts and yes so often is simply swept away. Occasionally someone will stand back in awe of the artistry if only we would take note every time. Please as we partake of this day keep the many who have been devastated in Haiti and across the world all who are in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and always give thanks.

2 responses to “A tapestry woven as a spider spins a web”

    • I am always glad to be in communications with other teachers – Judging by your post you might enjoy Nel Noddings as well as a program I am involved with Foxfire – Not soliciting but Nel Noddings writes about caring in teaching and Foxfire is about building from expereinces both are missing in many class rooms around the country as we teach to the test

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