I wasn't quite sure why my friend was so hesitant. Her task was simple: Pick up and bag the fallen pine needles and conical swirlies scattered on the ground so I can locate the delicate dichondra growth and help it along. Her conflict: She was having a lot of trouble displacing the surly black bug that had surfaced as she overturned over a small stone. "I'm not sure I can do this," she confided; "I'm harming so many living beings."
I leaned over, scooped up a handful of earth and the bug along with it, and gently tossed both over a wall onto the terrace two feet below us. "Their lives are a series of unforeseen displacements. It'll be okay," I said and left it at that. I was mostly at peace with the swift, albeit borderline, solution and grinned, knowing in my heart of hearts that hers was the higher, if unsustainable, ground, given the sanctity of all life and human need in the face of the sheer number of insects on earth. I don't know whether she was able to buy into that justification. Protecting life is a tenet of her faith and mine, although one of us would probably not couch it in those terms. Still, I can offer a modicum of support as I walk this path: I can take no life; I can cover the water bucket so the little ones don't jump in; I can offer shade to the delicate lilies and ferns.
It's a start; and why not, since I'm out there gardening mainly to learn how to love.