*Alternate* First Reading: “Strength of My Soul” excerpt by Joyce Rupp

A few weeks after recognizing that my soul certainly needs strength, I came across something amazing to reinforce my understanding of this. As I drove to the post office, I looked out the window and couldn’t believe what I saw beside me — a glistening spider web attached from the side mirror to the top of the car door’s upper frame. At the middle of this web, a teeny spider no bigger than a pencil eraser clung with amazing tenacity to the center of the thin filaments. At each stop light I looked again to gain assurance of its presence. … I studied that little spider intently, in awe that its home could endure the force of the wind created by the car’s speed. 

During the following days, each time before I entered the car I checked to see if the spider managed to keep his life and home intact. Sure enough, he stayed safely in place. The more I befriended this tiny companion, the more I thought about the profound metaphor his delicate yet durable web offered regarding soul-strength.  … [M]ost teachers of inner growth insist on letting go as being indispensable for greater wholeness. That appraisal contains substantial truth. However, holding on and remaining firm are equally vital for maintaining integrity and inner durability. There is a time for clinging, for holding fast.

As the spider could not survive without the web’s tough filaments, I cannot survive without a steadfast relationship with the spiritual filament of my life. … Clutching and holding steadfastly like that tiny spider on the strong web — there are times on our spiritual journey when this is about all we can manage to do.

 The words of Joyce Rupp.