Divine Weavers: Honoring Our Mothers As Artists.
The first time I recall meeting an artist, she was suspended from a string on my back porch.
Eight-legged and air-breathing, she certainly had the wherewithal to be roving. Still, she didn’t dare stray from her work. Close she remained to her creation, as tiny drops of dew gathered around the edges, acting as elemental onlookers to her fine craftsmanship.
My mother was a city-dweller whose overexposure to cockroaches and underexposure to spiders allowed her to cultivate a deep appreciation for these notorious arthropods. Regardless of the fact that some spiders are rightful owners of mouth parts containing venomous fangs, my mother never let fear get in the way of her admiration.
She peacefully coexisted with them, and welcomed their presence into her home and her garden.
Naturally, it was my mother who had arranged that memorable first encounter between my small self and the dangling artist. A gardener who employed a palate of roses, impatiens, and daffodils to color her field of vision, she honored all creatives.
Having watered her garden in the wee hours of the night, she knew of the magic that transpires in the darkness. And so she turned the porch light on that evening, if only to illuminate that simple but sacred truth.
After that first mesmerizing encounter, I vowed to defend every spider in danger of being crushed by a much larger human being. I cupped them. I released them. Except, of course when they were in my personal space; then I often let them stay, selfishly hoping to get a glimpse into their creative process.
Still, I was not privy to the secrets of their handiwork — only ever bearing witness to the finished product.
For a very long time, I believed that spiders possessed an endless ball of string inside of themselves. That the beauty they created was effortless.
I assumed the same about most artists. They just kept pulling from that limitless string of creativity, no fear of it ever running out. I was wrong. So wrong in fact, that I had to faceplant into a spider’s web to knock that bogus notion out of my head.
That’s right. I was carelessly running in the woods when I smashed face first into a wondrous web, destroying the very art form I had such deep reverence for. And then I saw the spider who created the web, who was no bigger than my pinkie nail, and I watched her do the unthinkable.
While I was busy chastising myself and apologizing for my lack of awareness, she was gathering the torn contents of her web, preparing it for digestion.
Like an explorer rolling up a wrinkled old map, the spider used her many legs to roll up the tattered threads. And then, just when I couldn’t be any more amazed by her, I watched her gracefully devour the salvaged remnants of her art. Although it was unbeknownst to me at the time, this act of recycling is something spiders do.
I suppose it makes perfect sense. Why waste time looking for a new source of protein when you could just eat the one in front of you?
I was completely transfixed by this creature’s resilience and resourcefulness. And yet she reminded me of someone very close to me. In fact, she reminded me of my mother, the gardener who decades ago had her magnificent perennial garden accidentally destroyed by landscapers.
Deeply disheartened in her marriage, yet pregnant with her second child, my mother had put all of her winter hope into her garden. When her flower beds were destroyed that spring, she got down on all fours, her round belly caressing the earth, and ran her fingers through the soil, desperately searching for any surviving roots.
Returning empty-handed, all she could think to do in that moment was offer the earth her tears.
Still, my mother never abandoned her work in that garden. Not after that sad day. Not after her divorce. Not even after the death of her greatest champion — her mother. Instead, my mother, like her beloved teacher spider, refused to allow the careless and destructive behavior of humans to stop her from creating.
Mostly, she refused to allow anything (even her own unbearable sorrow) to prevent her from cultivating a deeper sense of joy.
Without fail, every time I have watched the things I’ve thrown my heart into get completely wrecked, I am reminded of my mother and her arthropodic allies. The way they stayed true to their craft despite the persistent threat of their creations being destroyed. The way they began again and again.
And so I am compelled to ask myself this: What if the true threads holding our creative lives together are more than just twisted filaments? What if these threads are often invisible to the untrained eye? Do we still remember to employ them when our wounds are in need of suturing?
Be it a shattered piece of pottery. A house burned to the ground. A love dismantled by time
However it is that we mortals become acquainted with loss, may we never forget that the creation of the new often rests on the destruction of the old. That as vulnerable as we are to witnessing the things we put our love into fall apart, we are also endowed with an innumerable amount of strength and tenacity.
That above all else, we have inside our very tiny selves all that is needed to spin our world anew.
Michelle Price is a swimmer, siren, and sea serpent who calls upon her favorite elemental muse (the water) for inspiration. She presses her pen to the paper and waits for the ink to flow; she will not rest until she sees waves. When a hurricane of emotions hits, she stands on the shoreline, taking inventory of all the things that were suddenly swept away. She records what is wrecked, what is gone, and what remains. She is the barefooted explorer who dances between pieces of broken glass, trying to retrieve any traces of treasure. She believes in the power of art to bring to the surface that which has been buried deep below. When we gain the courage to free ourselves from forces that hinder our true creative expression, we begin the healing process. Be it pen or paintbrush, she honors all the many different tools of healing humans chose to be reminded of our true divine nature. Michelle devises creative content for artists, health professionals, and creative entrepreneurs. You could contact her via email.