Sunday, June 26, 2011

On Buddhists, Bugs & Bunnies

Last night I drove ten miles or so to visit congregants who are celebrating 50 years of being married.  I was late, arriving after all the guests save family had left.  But I wanted to make an appearance and give them my congratulations.

Good conversation, shared memories, and getting to say hello to lots of their family I hadn’t seen in awhile made me glad I took the time to go.

It was dusk when I traveled back on the winding country road.  “Watch out for the deer” were Sandra’s parting words.  And I did.

A yearling stood in the road giving me the once over before bounding into the adjacent fields.  I love to watch the deer run through the unmown wheat fields, only their heads bobbing up and down with the rhythm of their stride.

The deer passed from view and I drove on.  A few miles up the road, a bunny ran out in front of me.  I hit the brakes and thought I’d missed him, but then I heard a thump.  I looked back and didn’t see him, so I traveled on.

But with each yard, I kept thinking, “go back”.  “Check on the rabbit.  You don’t know that you missed him.  Go back.”  A little self-talking argument ensued, in which I pointed out to myself that I wouldn’t have the slightest idea what to do if I found the rabbit injured but not dead.  “You’re a city girl.  You know you won’t pick him up and take him to a vet.  You’re afraid even of a rabbit up close like that!”

But the thought simply wouldn’t leave me; and so I went back, driving slowly each way, looking for the rabbit in the road or in the grass beside it.  No bunny.  Maybe I missed him.  Maybe I only caught his tail.  Maybe he made it into the tall grass where I couldn’t see.

All I know is that as I was making the loop looking for the rabbit, the lightening bugs started coming out.  I love lightening bugs.  They’re summer magic.

But even as slowly as I was then driving, one of the lightening bugs hit the windshield of the car.  And lots of other bugs did as well.

Driving in the late evening in the country is an act of homicide to thousands of insects.

The air is thick with them that time of day and they can’t withstand the wind shear of a car.

Even as I wanted to give myself some sort of moral credit for going back to check on the bunny, having no idea what I would do if I found him, I was reminded that my mere presence, surrounded as I was by the technology of the automobile, was proving mortal for perhaps thousands of living creatures.

I am not a Buddhist, but there is much in me that yearns to that way of being, of taking care for all living things, even the tiniest of insects; of being aware of the abundance of life surrounding me; of treating all creation with gentleness and respect.

These were the thoughts that plagued me last night, just another mass murderer on her way home.


  1. Can't wait to see those lightning bugs. What else can we get up to? :)

  2. In keeping w/ my murderous intentions towards insect life, we can always chase and catch them and put them in a jar!

  3. May we all have such a tender heart.

  4. Country life does make you realize how fragile life is, but I think it's a good place to be...after all things die every day.

  5. Patti- thanks.
    Ginny - it's so true - living in the country makes us much more mindful, I think, of the rhythm of life and death, in ways we miss in the city.

    On a lighter note, Ben said that I shouldn't call it 'homicide', but rather 'insecticide' - that boy makes his mother laugh!