I remember the moment my son saw a daddy longlegs for the first time. The two of us were sitting on an old brick sidewalk playing with a pair of rusted John Deer tractor toys. I spotted the arachnid before he did, crawling along on some seemingly insurmountable journey. I pointed to the spider. My son laid eyes on it, instantly fascinated - all his attention suddenly taken to this strange creature with spindly legs and a body smaller than a toenail.
Also known as cellar spiders, daddy longlegs seem like small awkward monsters dreamed up in the mind of a science fiction writer or fantasy filmmaker. But neither Stephen King nor James Cameron can be credited with the odd idea of a daddy longlegs. Nope. The copyright belongs to none other than the triune God, the Maker of heaven and earth Himself. The God Who made nice things and pretty things like willow trees and Cirrus clouds and strawberries and puppies, saw it fit to make things as strange and bizarre as a daddy longlegs and the slimy blob fish and the bulgy-eyed great potoo. The God Who made “sensible” and palatable things like petunias and snowflakes also made things like goat-head stickers and slugs.
Daddy longlegs weave messy and tangled webs in the hidden and undisturbed corners of buildings and caves. Thousands of them, millions of these strange, silly creatures out there in our world as we unknowingly walk by them and under them and over them. And that’s just the way God likes it for they are not God’s leftovers. They are not accidents or mistakes. They, in fact, are included in God’s grand and sweeping declaration: “Good!” The Hebrew word in Genesis 1 for good is the word tov, which means not merely nice or thumbs up or well done. It is a word that has the sense of groove and rhythm, the sense that everything belongs right where it is, everything in its right place fitting in perfectly. All is at it should be. Jarring as they may be to some, daddy longlegs are wonderful to our Creator, and residence has been divinely given to them in the created order. They belong.
I like to think that God saw it fit to explore and experiment with something like the daddy longlegs in the creative work, divinely endorsing the unconventional and eccentric. Inspired by this strange creature and his divinely given place in the universe I want to make a manifesto. This is a manifesto to you, lonely artist with your sketches of bizarre mutant beings; to you, songwriter with your rambling songs of nostalgia and road trips; to you, recluse writer with your beloved world of two suns, crystal rivers, and a mountain king; to you, painter who still believes that you might be able to find a new color; to you, novelist with your story that dares to hold child-like hope and a happy ending; to you, young entrepreneur with your audacious dream to end homelessness in your city - make, create, be inspired, have renegade thoughts, make a stab, take a shot in the dark - for all these unconventional and at times unbelievable endeavors that no one else seems to understand somehow belong among us. This is the Daddy Longlegs Manifesto.