Rev. John Farmer’s “Reflections” column


by Rev. John H. Farmer
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Pollen & Cobwebs

Yellow is such a “sneezinly” unpopular spring color in the Northern Neck of Virginia. Ye gads, pollen is everywhere. It is not satisfied to stay out of doors either. It is all about the house, on our clothes and even in our cars.

It reminds that I have not depollinated our gazebo. Well, actually I can’t remember cleaning there last year. I mean it is all the way out in the yard. In due time Miss Hazel will remind me… Worse yet, I have not removed the spider webs. They are everywhere.

When our granddaughter, Laura Farmer Wilkins, was a wee lass she used to call cobwebs “bugwires.” They blotch the corners of our rooms, drape beneath our furniture. Cobwebs, alias bugwires, mysteriously appear. They suspend from the middle of the ceiling. They cascade boldly about light fixtures. I haven’t the slightest idea why they are called cobwebs, unless it is a carry over from when folks burned corncobs for heat, and smoke wafted into the room was quickly identified by a spider’s web.

Out of doors they connect flora and fauna in a transparent web. Don’t tell anybody but they are beautiful when morning dews arrive.

My father used to walk about the gardens, early mornings, with a stick up before his face. We joked about it, that he appeared like the Pope walking with his staff. Usually one trip about the place with his stick and paths were safe to trod.

When we lived afar and would come home to visit, son Lee delighted to help granddaddy Robert rid the world of bugwires as well. Those two shared a common bond. Chores were left undone, projects were lined up, special food was brought in, because Lee was coming home. Dad even made a special grandson night-time place out in the garage. More than once I observed dad heading out late at nights with a bag of emergency boy food and to check on the lad.

Back to the pollen webs. Indoors it is a bit different. How can we get those cobwebs, those bugwires out of their exalted positions? “Oh, just a broom, a cloth and some elbow grease,” you say. That is not so serious or so difficult. Did you ever hear of anyone tearing a house down to get rid of cobwebs? I think not. That would be a silly over reaction, for a house is of much more value and service than such a sacrifice, for a mere cobweb.

Cobwebs remind me of some things which are happening about us today. Sometimes we see cobwebs in the church, not only the annoying dark network in corners and hanging from ceilings, but cobwebs of opinions, motives. They droop and linger. They distress us. In fact, some feel that their presence ruins the church. It darkens Christianity.

Like the gazebo and our out-of-doors church cobwebs must be removed before unity and peace of mind can reappear. We should recognize some human opinions as cobwebs, and not confuse them with matters of faith, where scripture speaks. We could be confused, though. We must not tear down the church to get rid of such cobwebs. Let them be webs and not a part of the divine structure. There is an old Bible declaration, which separates opinions from truth—“Thus saith the Lord.”

I remember seeing a popular religious painting which depicts the mission attitude of a church. A spider’s web had closed the money slit in a mission box in the front hall. Hmm?

Our checklist needs to be repeated: God first, others next and self last.

Spring is a good time to clean our beliefs, thoughts, minds and hearts.

Thinking people of faith will find religious cobwebs of opinion, and will not be satisfied with everything in the church. But if Christ is there, and we try to make his will supreme, it can weather many storms and protect many souls. People are apt to find what they look for, in church as elsewhere. Church cobwebs can be removed from structures and people.

In every church habit, culture, popular political correctness all drape from the webs. Daily I find myself dealing with “back to the Bible.” It is our church book. And it works like a vacuum on cleaning day.

“The B-I-B-L-E, Yes, that’s the book for me, I stand alone on the Word of God—The B-I-B-L-E.”

Take a cue from nature; various pollen seasons come once every year. We have a year to prepare for season next. I am going to try to remember to clean up me, so that Bible in hand, I’ll be ready for whatever season next has to offer.