Starting Point
This week's stories | Home Page
Issue Date:  December 23, 2005

Starting Point


I was writing letters when I saw a shadow scurry across the wall behind my Christmas tree. Aghast, I watched as the shadow dashed momentarily back into view, looking like a giant tarantula out of a horror movie. With trepidation, I climbed onto a chair and peered among the Christmas tree branches. Nothing. Using a broom handle, I took down a holiday swag behind the tree, afraid I would find a lair of some kind in it. Nothing. Over a couple weeks, this happened half a dozen times. Always, after careful investigation, I could find nothing.

One night with my living room lit only by the white twinkle lights on my Christmas tree, the now familiar shadow with many legs scuttled across the wall yet again. I knew I could not sleep again until I got to the bottom of the seemingly ominous visitations. I settled down to wait. Before long, the looming monster-spider shadow sidled across the wall one more time.

Crawling up onto the sofa arm, I stood on tiptoe, nervously scrutinizing the highest tree branches. And then, I saw it: an exquisite, tiny spider the size of half a grain of rice. Over the highest twinkle light at the top of the tree, the spider had spun a web so delicate it was barely more than a filament. I practically needed a magnifying glass to see it! Most amazing, the prismatic effect of the twinkle light caused the spider’s shadow to appear 50 times larger than it really was.

Sometimes, I think, worries are like that tiny spider’s shadow, we inflate them to monstrous proportions.

However, when we spiritually surround our deepest concerns with prayer and trust -- like the spider’s web around the twinkle light -- the reality of Christ being reborn into our hearts each Christmas becomes as a magnifying glass. Through this joyous prism, the perspective of true faith enlivens our hope and diminishes our grief, pain and fear through the comfort of eternal love -- inviting us for another year to take note of the glorious messages of encouragement God sends through ordinary means and unexpected messengers.

Joni Woelfel’s fourth book, The Edge of Greatness: Empowering Meditations for Life was published the fall of 2004 by Resurrection Press.

National Catholic Reporter, December 23, 2005

This Week's Stories | Home Page | Top of Page
Copyright  © The National Catholic Reporter Publishing  Company, 115 E. Armour Blvd., Kansas City, MO   64111
All rights reserved.
TEL:  816-531-0538     FAX:  1-816-968-2280   Send comments about this Web site to: