Thou Shalt Not Kill

A hapless clumsy spider tripped and fallen in the sink?  Everything stops.  Down slides a paper towel spidey-ladder to the rescue, and when the creature steps aboard, it’s lifted outside and set gently in the garden, tucked away with soothing words and soft warnings that sinks are not safe places for spiders to play.

Would that I were always this type of person.  Most of the time, I am.  I have copyrighted a method for depositing spiders, bees and other Godly creatures safely outdoors.  On the top shelf of a closet just off the kitchen sits a small margarine tub (empty) and a manilla file folder.  If the wee timorous beastie is clinging to a window screen or sunbathing on the kitchen counter, I sneak up, tub in hand, and move to hovering position about six inches from said bug.  Then, with the reflexes of a World Series pitcher, I attach tub to surface in one swell foop.  The other hand has been holding the file folder, which I then slip behind the tub.  Grabbing the edge of the folder and keeping a firm grip on the container, I lift off.  And voila – I march resolutely to the front door (pre-opened, which you could say presents more opportunities for bug rescue), walk outside, and throw my arms into the air, sending tub and folder flying along with my winged friend.  If the momentary prisoner is a spider, I’m far more gentle.  Either way, the bottom line is that the visitor lives.

One time, when I was on a silent retreat at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, I had a chance to reveal my skills to the world.  One hundred of us retreatants were having lunch, when I noticed a wasp high up on one of the big windows, frantically seeking escape.  No margarine tub in sight, nor a file folder.  There was worry, however, about what my fellow yogis would think of my probable action.  No thought of them thinking well of me for saving a life, just afraid of their criticism.  (Sigh)  I stewed only for a minute or so.  “Just do it, Bruce.  It’s a living being who needs your help.”  So I got up, went to the foyer where I remembered seeing a large laminated card listing instructions about something or other, grabbed the card, plucked a small bowl from its pile, marched back to my table, got up on a chair … and hovered, trying to push aside my fear of the stinger.  “But bowl against glass is going to make an awful noise!” …  “Good grief, please be quiet.”  Plunk.  Slide.  Grab hold with both hands.  Down from the chair.  Hip open the door.  Fly!

Then serenely back to my spot, eyes down to avoid likely stares, sit down, and resume my enjoyment of vegetarian lasagna.  And a deeper enjoyment as well.

So I’m pretty good with spiders and bees.  But then there are flies.  Those little so-and-so’s are too fast for my tub/folder trick.  So I’ve most often used a weapon of destruction – the fly swatter.  I have killed, many times.  All to avoid the buzzing, the alighting, the darned inconvenience!  Today, I vow to never again raise that long-handled piece of yellow rubber.  I vow to flick the little ones away, but not to crush the life out of them.  Thinking practically, flies don’t live long.  Thinking spiritually, I will let them be.  I promise you.

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