Close your eyes.
What do you see? A lion? A wolf? An eagle? A snake? Do you see the shadow of movement in the grass out of the corner of your eye? The shadow from above?
What do you hear? Do you hear the low growl? The screech from above? The rattle from below?
What do you feel? Do you feel hot breath on your neck? The heat of a body so close, but not quite touching you? The subtle change in air pressure across your face?
Can you taste it? The almost metallic taste—you know “its” coming.
For many of us “hunter” conjures fear, terror, a sudden loss of breath, a racing heart. For so many of us, we have been prey. Even as I write, my pulse has quickened, my breaths have shortened and gone shallow. My palms sweat. Waiting. I wait, expecting, fearing, knowing the worst is coming.
You are safe.
Plant your feet on the ground.
Can you feel the surety of it?
Safe. Solid. Secure.
I want to introduce you to an unusual hero of mine.
She is a long-legged beauty with deep brown eyes and short hair. Her domain is often in wooded places, cool and shaded. When she moves, she moves with grace and intentionality. She will raise her arms above her head, swaying them back and forth as the long branches of a weeping willow in the breeze. Her steps are delicate, quietly rustling leaves on the forest floor, yet she can be swift when the moment requires.
I write to introduce you to this most unusual hero because we need heroes to help us learn how to live well. This hero of mine I just recently met? The huntsman spider of Australia.
Hang with me.
I did say spider.
Like most spiders, the huntsman carries venom, but her venom is not toxic to people (Our daddy long leg spider in the US has a more toxic venom, if it helps to know this.).
She is super large—the size of the palm of your hand—measuring up to six inches across. Yep. That’s what I said, six inches.
Much in Australia is large.
Why in the world would I bring up spiders now?
Hang with me.
Feel the ground under your feet.
In Australia, people are encouraged to allow this spider—this large hunter—to remain in their homes. If you see one, leave it. It is safe. You are safe.
In actuality, the huntsman seeks out and kills the smaller creatures in homes that are dangerous to people and pets, that can do harm, that often go unseen. The huntsman protects the home and keeps it safe. Imagine. That which strikes fear into many of our hearts is actually good to have around the house.
Females of this species are strong, vigilant protectors of her young. She stands guard over her egg sack for three weeks, without leaving it, without eating, aggressively protecting her unborn young. Some of the species will even carry her egg sack with her wherever she goes, remaining the ever-protective mother.
After her eggs hatch, she will remain with her hatchlings for several weeks more, continuing to guard and protect them as they grow and learn how to hunt for themselves. When the huntress becomes mother, she becomes the protector.
Unlike many other of her kind, she does not devour her mate. In fact, some species of her kind live in communities, male and female, hunting and protecting together.
I’ve needed a hero like her. I’ve needed a protective mother. I needed a mother who did not devour her mate. I needed a mother who stood watch and protected me, even at the risk of sacrificing herself. I needed a mother like this. I needed a mom who stayed with me as I grew and changed, who showed me how to be, how to live, and to how to hunt, and how to protect. I needed a mom much like her.
While my hero may be an unlikely choice, she is, well, a choice hero. A huntress. A protector. And I can learn much from her.
Erin O’Connor’s favorite name to be called is “Grammy” and now sometimes, “Nammy.” She enjoys spending time with her two grown children, her son-in-law, and her three grandchildren, laughing, playing, and reading. Erin lives in southeast Wisconsin, and is a professional counselor. She enjoys mentoring others, reading, writing, swimming, biking, and seeing God’s handiwork in nature. Erin’s hope is to own her own horse, someday soon. Erin is a contributing author of several devotionals published in Quiet Reflections of Hope. Erin continues her journey of experiencing kindness from God, with others, and for herself.