by Pastor Jen Shenk


It was a random picture I snapped with my phone
the last day of summer vacation,
the day before a new school year.



The August air hung heavy and hot
with white puffy clouds set against a
brilliant blue sky.

All three boys climbed up on a spider web
going higher
until they were each stretched to their limit.

I watched them
suspended on cables woven together, connected,
their silhouettes standing out from the sky beyond.

Now, today,
I watched them leave for school.
Releasing them into this vast, open world.

I cannot go with them.
It will be their own journey to climb
to struggle
to stretch to their limits.

But they will not be alone.
They will be undergirded and supported by a vast network
of a spider web of their own:

   Teachers who know school isn't just about test scores
   Classmates who share a smile and end up becoming a friend
   Grandparents who celebrate new beginnings and growing up
   Friends, cousins, pastors, family, babysitters, neighbors,
   The list extends in a beautiful and complex network of connection.

They will climb while I watch.
I will see them get to the top and
I will feel joy right alongside them
when they conquer fears and get stronger,
holding onto their web for support when they need it.

A web of support that
stretches when necessary
yet is
stronger than steel.
So delicate it's barely visible
unless the light catches it just right.

Calm and believing,
I will give thanks for the infinite number of threads
that connect them to me,
to each other,
and to others all around.

I will give thanks
that I am not the only lifeline they know.
I will feel grateful for the sturdy and tender web

set against a vast open sky
that will give them strength to climb
and higher still.


*                           *                           *                           *                           *

I wrote the above poem six years ago, but I’m struck by how timely it still is even today. And while it’s obviously written from the perspective of kids going to school, I think it can apply to all sorts of transitions, new beginnings, and growth.


As I reflect on our summer series of scattering seeds, and how each one of us has Divine DNA (aka. God’s Spirit) planted within us from the moment we are created, I think the Divine Intention is that-- ultimately--  we bear fruit. However, it’s almost impossible to bear fruit unless we are connected. We need to stay connected to God through spiritual disciplines like prayer, reading the Bible, and regular worship. And we need to foster connections to one another-- being in real relationships where honesty, grace, love and forgiveness are abundant.


Who is in your web of support? My prayer is that our congregation can be a strong part of this web that supports, undergirds, encourages and equips you for what God is calling you to do.


May you know strength, peace, and joy as you grow in faith-- climbing, stretching, and leaning on God and others in the journey!


“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”  (John 15:4,5)