NEWS FLASH: I held a tarantula!
(The photo is actually of Pete’s hand, from several months ago, but the tarantula is the same individual that I held recently.)
If you have been following my other blog, Mountain Plover, you know that I am generally terrified of spiders. In an effort to overcome this phobia, I have been intentionally learning more about them. Last February I wrote about tarantulas, illustrating my post with photos I took through the glass walls of a terrarium. It was a beginning.
In July, I wrote about how spiders are beneficial to us gardeners. Again, photos accompanied that post. This time, there were no glass barriers between my camera lens and my subjects.
Most recently, I visited the Butterfly Pavilion in Broomfield, Colorado. Along with over 1,000 species of butterflies, the Pavilion is home to a variety of other invertebrates, including spiders. Along with such impressive (and very scary) tarantulas as the Salmon Pink Birdeater (shown here), they have a nice, placid Chilean Rose Hair named Rosie. She is their “tarantula ambassador.” You can get in line, hold out your hand, and they will gently place her on your palm.
I realized that holding Rosie would be a major step in overcoming my arachnophobia, so, with a quick prayer for courage, I got in line. (Mind you, I wandered around taking pictures for about 15 minutes first, getting up my nerve!)
There were two eager tarantula-holders ahead of me. The first was a 2-year-old girl. While she was too young to hold Rosie by herself, her mom (who looked to be about 25) was happy to help. Together they held out their hands, with mom’s hand cupping her daughter’s small one, and Rosie paid her visit. Both mother and daughter were smiling.
Next was a boy of about nine. He was nonchalant about the whole thing, discussing the ins and outs of tarantula ownership with the volunteer running the encounter. Meanwhile, Rosie wandered up and down his arm, exploring a bit. (She filled his palm.) Prodding her by her back legs, the volunteer urged her back onto his own hand. Then it was my turn.
I explained that I was overcoming a fear of spiders, wanting to disclose my hesitations in case I freaked out at the last moment. Then I held out my hand, and Rosie was deposited onto my open palm. I stared in disbelief. I was actually holding a huge spider!
The volunteer asked how it felt. “Like a mouse with extra legs,” I replied. And it did. The hairs felt like fur. She was so light, I could barely feel her presence as her legs danced on my skin. The volunteer scooped her back—and I realized I was disappointed that it was over already.
A quick glance told me no one else was in line, so I held my hand out again, and repeated the whole experience. It was actually all right. I was all right. This was nothing to fear.
Sometimes we fear things for a reason. I have a healthy respect for black widow spiders, rattlesnakes, and mountain lions. Those are all things that can really harm me, and I should be afraid of them. Other times we are afraid for no good reason. I recently read a blog about a youth pastor afraid of foam! My daughter’s friend is terrified of birds, and my mother screamed at the sight of snakes, even harmless ones.
I can find myself afraid and anxious over the most trivial matters, as well as some pretty big issues. It’s the litany of the “what if’s.” What if I can’t find the address where I’m going? What if I get lost? What if they don’t like me? What if I fail? What if?
I am choosing not to let my baseless fears control me. When my mind starts asking “What if?” I consciously decide to pray and turn it over to God. He is watching over me, He is in control. He can handle whatever life throws at me, and I can trust Him to take care of everything. I don’t need to be afraid. “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline (2 Tim. 1:7).”
As I sit here typing, there is a small black spider spinning a web between my computer monitor and the origami hummingbird suspended above it. I don’t plan on picking it up… but I think I can let it stay here. Maybe it will catch some of the annoying gnats that have come through the window screen.