By: Deacon Marques Silva
Last night at 10:29 p.m., the Autumnal Equinox occurred. This means fall has begun (except for the meteorologists that set it on September 1). Mother Nature even assisted last night with some brisk air to remind us that fall has indeed arrived. Nature itself is preparing for its Advent retreat and so are many of Our Lord’s creatures.
Take, for instance, the spider. It is at this time that a number of spider younglings hatch from their eggs. After their exoskeleton hardens, the spiders find the highest point, release a strand of their silken web and let the wind carry it wherever the autumnal wind wills (You remember, like in Charlotte’s Web). This silken thread of web is known colloquially as gossamer. We even have a Catholic legend to explain this:
This delicate filmy cobweb, prevalent in the air and on the grass and bushes, especially in autumn, is explained in a fine legend. It is the delicate thread unraveling from the Blessed Virgin’s winding sheet, falling to earth in her Assumption. The word itself, however, comes from “goose summer” which was a name for St. Martin’s summer because of the goose legend, which is another story!
Sometimes explanations for natural occurrences are written by the poets. While their explanations are often implausible – if not impossible — still, the exquisite piety of their poetry seems to overcome the obvious logic with beauty. For the scientist or realist, this type of explanation may seem childish or annoying. That being said, there is so much to gain in simple child-like piety.
If we are honest, the faith of a child seems to be more vibrant than many adults. We all would be quick to admit that this is due to their naiveté and/or experience of life. And yet, many saints have embraced the simplicity of childlike faith. Jesus said it, so it must be true, after all.
Regardless, I like the gossamer legend, not because it adequately explains what a spider web is or why, as I walked out my door this morning, my face embraced that sticky silk. It reminds me that even after the Assumption, Our Lady desires to leave her fingerprints on our lives through her motherly intercession.
Maybe today, or this weekend, as you steal away to enjoy your autumn day, you can take a moment to lie on the ground and stare up and name the shapes of the clouds. Take some time to remember that childlike faith and joy. If you have forgotten how, just ask a toddler and I’m positive that they are fully capable of re-teaching you.
Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it. (Luke 18:17)
 Klein, Rev. Peter, The Catholic Source Book (Harcourt Religion Publishers, 2000) p. 352.