The Moth and the Spider: A modern day fable

Last night I sat out on my deck and watched a big black spider weave a beautiful web. It was a 4’x5’, perfectly symmetrical work of art.

I sat and stared at the threads of crystal as they waved in the breeze and flickered in the dim light of the crescent moon. I watched the spider as she worked tirelessly, moving back and forth with focus, in a pattern that was fixed before it even began.

I marveled at the beauty of this creation.

This morning when I walked past the web some movement caught my eye. There, in the very center of the giant web was a large speckled moth. Struggling. Stuck. Caught.

He tried to get himself free, but with each flap of his wings he grew more and more tangled. His movements became slow and labored.

I stood and watched and wondered. What should I do? Should I save this beautiful creature and rob the spider of her meal, while rendering all of last night’s efforts useless? Should I allow her the rewards of her labor? Or should I spare this poor struggling moth his life?

I reached in with both hands for threads of the web on either side of the moth. I grabbed them to pull them apart, surprised by their strength and resistance. It took both hands for me to tear just one thread. And as I did the moth began to flap more feverishly, and one of his wings became completely covered in silk.

I began to doubt my decision as he hung from a tangle of thread, flapping one wing slowly. With a bit of a struggle I broke the other threads around him, and I lowered him to the ground. The weight of the silk on his wings kept him down, as he flapped and flipped around on the deck, moving in circles, unable to lift off.

Was he going to die there, on the ground?  Had I robbed the spider of her meal only to have the moth die anyway? And die in vain? Had I robbed him of his dharma? Was this his purpose?  Should I have left him there and merely observed the course of nature?

After a few minutes there on the deck his wings became visibly lighter, and his movements quicker. Soon he was slowly lifting off of the ground.  He flew out into the yard, slightly worse for the wear, and perhaps with a cautionary tale to tell.

Still torn by my decision, I am relieved for the moth.
But tonight, I will apologize to the spider.

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