I was reminded today that practicing peace for a new Earth means practicing peace towards all inhabitants of Earth, not just humans; even enormous, hairy spiders!
In general I am a great friend of the creatures of Earth, especially birds. I was just having a conversation with my daughter the other day about how I can’t stand to kill bugs, despite the large quantity of fruit flies that have taken up residence in our kitchen. My daughters know this already because they have watched me capture bugs and release them back outside. For me it really is part of my practice of peace, because truly I don’t think killing anything is peaceful. I find it a real challenge in the summer in my mosquito infested yard, and if I do react and swat at one I feel badly afterward. I still have a memory from my childhood of an afternoon when I was playing outside and there was a colony of ants climbing up the trunk of a birch tree in our yard. I remember killing many of them with a stick - why I’m not quite sure other than I was a child and saw ants as pests. However, I also remember afterward thinking of it from their perspective as the great ant massacre and feeling badly about the ants who were left alive and had lost their family. I didn’t see it as a lesson in peace at the time, but I felt so badly about it that I remember it to this day.
Peace toward all the creatures of Earth has been on my mind this week because of the robin I wrote about the other day, the snake I saw flattened in the road on my walk yesterday and the many squirrels I’ve seen dead on the roads lately. They helped me remember that the truth is it’s not just our planet. We share it with many others. It is their space as much as it is ours. Some of their species evolved long before ours. Yet it seems we don’t always share the space peacefully, but rather see them as intruders in our space.
That’s the way I saw the enormous, hairy spider in my bathroom this morning. Spiders are one creature that I don’t exactly like to be in close proximity to, though I do like the lessons spiders can teach. Today I remembered my lessons of living in peace and sharing space as I ran as fast and as peacefully as I could out of the bathroom. Perhaps as I practice more, next time I will only walk quickly away, grateful for a chance to share the space of peace.