A hope note
One of my favorite children’s books is ‘Charlotte’s Web.’ It’s about a spider, Charlotte, who saves Wilbur, a pig, from the slaughterhouse.
Wilbur, stunned, asks: ‘Why did you do this for me? I haven’t done anything to deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you.’
Charlotte responds: ‘After all, what’s a life anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die. A spider’s life can’t help being something of a mess, what with all this trapping and eating flies.
‘By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a little. Heaven knows, anyone’s life can stand a little of that.’
All of us are constructing something with our lives ‘ either a bridge or a pier. A pier stands alone, goes nowhere, connects to nothing. A bridge extends us beyond our own little self ‘ our island ‘ and connects us to another island or to the mainland. It liberates us from the prison of our aloneness, our preoccupation with self, our ‘trapping and eating flies,’ or as philosopher Blaise Pascal named it, ‘licking the earth.’
Thomas Carlyle, the Victorian sage, as a young boy had a beggar come to his door. His parents weren’t home. On boyish impulse, Carlyle broke open his piggy bank and gave the beggar all he had. Many years later he wrote that never before or after had he known such sheer, unadulterated joy as he felt that day.
As with Charlotte the spider, it may be the giver instead of the receiver who benefits most. Just as Charlotte said, ‘Perhaps I was trying to lift my life a little.’