I wasn't quite sure why my friend seemed so hesitant. Her task was to pick up the fallen pine needles and conical swirlies strewn on the ground so I could see the delicate dychondra growth well enough to help it along at some point. Her conflict appeared to be related to a surly black bug that surfaced from a clump as she turned over a small stone; she was having a lot of trouble displacing it. "I'm not sure I can do this," she complained; "I'm harming so many living beings."
I leaned over, scooped up a handful of earth just under the clump, and the bug along with it, and tossed both over a wall onto the terrace two feet below us. I don't know how she felt about that but I felt like a woman of swift albeit borderline solutions and grinned, knowing in my heart that she was the better of the two of us. We both understand protecting life as a tenet of our faith, although neither of us would probably couch it in those terms.
"It'll be okay," I said, "Their lives are a series of unforseen displacements," and I left it at that. I have no idea whether she was able to buy into that justification but I was fine with it. Truly, I understood in my heart that hers was the higher, although entirely unsustainable, ground given human needs and the sheer number of insects on earth. Still, I can offer some support. I can take no lives. I can cover the bucket of water 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 down there gardening mainly to learn how to love.