I spent this afternoon mowing the lawn and pulling spider webs off my skin.
Sometime in the course of this process of grass cutting and web-clearing it occurred to me that arachnophobia isn’t entirely irrational. The greatest arachnophobe I know calls spiders “eight-legged devils,” and not without reason. The devil’s m.o. is to ensnare. Does the wide world afford a better picture of ensnaring temptation, of close-clinging sin, than the spider’s web? When I run through webs their tensile strength astonishes me; strands cling to my beard even after thorough washing.
In turn, the image changed how I view Scripture. The Word of God, which St Paul calls the “sword of the Spirit,” appeared all the more valuable. We do not fully understand its value until we use it the way Beren used his sword in the Nan Dungortheb, the way Bilbo, Frodo and Sam used Sting in Mirkwood and Cirith Ungol: both to sever cords and to slay monsters.