The Spider's Lesson
by Rev. Robert J. Hermley

Stories for Life Index
Home Page

Many of the stories which we read when we are very young make a deep impression upon our consciousness and actually help us to form our lives according to the stories and heroes that struck our fancy.  This is a very strong argument for making sure that children read about good heroes both in history and among the saints.

Such a story that deeply imbedded its message into my young mind was an incident in the life of Robert Bruce of Scotland.  He spent a great portion of his life trying to free his country from English rule.  A legend about Bruce says that once when he was hiding in a cave from his enemies, he became tired, weary and for a brief moment considered surrender.  As he pondered his situation, he took note of a spider swinging by one of its threads.  It was trying to swing from one beam to another.  He noted that it tried six times and failed each time.  Bruce mused that he had engaged in that same number of battles against the British.  As he watched, the spider tried once more, and this time made it.

Robert Bruce took courage and decided that if the spider would not give up neither would he.  Refreshed, he engaged in battle anew and this time he went forth to victory.  Somehow, I never forgot that story and I shall be eternally grateful to the nun who first told it to me in school.  I resolved then and there to adopt the theory of this brave man who later became King Robert I of Scotland in 1328 - never give up!  Keep trying.  If you don't give up, you will finally reach your goal even if it takes longer than you originally planned.

I even go to the point where whenever I began a task, I vowed that I would drop dead before I ever admitted defeat - that if I had to stay up all night to finish a job I had promised, I would do it.  And so the spirit of Robert Bruce became part of my thinking process.  When I became a tennis coach, I preached the same sermon to my team members - never give up.  If your opponent practices two hours, you practice four.  If he practices four hours, you make it eight.  I repeat, I am extremely happy that I had teachers who gave me a marvelous value system.