The Spider

No one else should have noticed it. That I was aware of it was odd. In the midst of a crowded church foyer filled with lively Japanese members hurrying to Sunday School, the tiny spider was truly insignificant. Having arrived at the church a few minutes early with my missionary companion, I was sitting on a flight of stairs observing the members as they arrived. The spider had first appeared from under a wall heater, a tiny brown speck slowly progressing toward the middle of the hall. By the time its painstaking progress had lengthened to three feet, most of the members had arrived and were socializing in the hall before meetings.

My first impulse had been to brush it back under the heater. This idea was followed by the more childish notion of stepping on it. Fortunately for the spider, cruelty was quickly substituted by curiosity. The spider’s remaining lifetime appeared to be limited, increasingly so as it continued in a determined course toward the center of the crowded foyer. I was fascinated into inaction, watching and wondering how it would end—that inevitable, accidental footfall.

I will never understand how Brother Tashiro, the district president, saw it. He was obviously late as he hurried through the outside door to yet another meeting, briefcase in one hand, cassette recorder and slide projector precariously positioned under the opposite arm. His mind was surely filled with the endless responsibilities of running a mission district; yet he, too, somehow saw the tiny spider among the crowd. Immediately stopping, he set aside his load and, excusing himself, parted the crowd, stooped down and gently scooped the spider into his palm, then released it outside to a more hospitable environment. As though hardly aware of the interruption, he hurried to the waiting meeting.

It was so simple, such a natural act for that humble servant of the Lord. Then a wonderful analogy unfolded before me. I saw in my mind’s eye the Savior, stooping down from the complex business of creating worlds without number, to personally teach, exhort, and sacrifice for the sake of an uncomprehending human race, a seemingly insignificant speck in the endless corridors of eternity. With Godly devotion, he lifted man from certain doom, transporting him to an environment of freedom and opportunity wherein he could live and grow.

I thought of all the thousands of Japanese people yet unaware of the Savior’s great love, people I had been sent to teach. A new resolve filled my breast as I hurried into Sunday School class. Next time, I resolved, I would save the spider.

[illustration] Illustrated by M. M. Kawasaki