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  • Writer's pictureRev. Eko Noble

Blessings of the Boxelder Bug - A Year End Story Bodai-an Hermitage of Awakening and Refuge

To all who have so generously supported the RLS Non-toxic Tiny House Prototype Project, Bodai-an, Hermitage of Awakening and Refuge, thank you. I offer this story with deep gratitude and ongoing inspiration. Bodai-an, the RLS Non-toxic Tiny House, moved from Lopez, the island of her birth, to the mainland. Once arrived, she found herself first in the Columbia River Gorge resting in proximity to a grove of maple and alder trees. As the weather grew colder, though not invited, Bodai-an provided shelter to a whole group of Boxelder bugs who found their way inside through the bottom, yet unscreened, siding corner pieces and made themselves quite at home. Harmless, with a short life cycle, they were shown the door in the spring, pretty much a non-violent Buddhist end to the story. Now some years later, one lone remaining ancestor Boxelder Bug found its way to rest on my lap yesterday. I was startled and so off it flew to the floor in the direction of the kitchen, slowly crawling out of sight, safe from certain demise if tread upon. I went back to my writing. Later, I noticed that this little bug, found its way into my water glass and was floating, waiting patiently for rescue. I carefully lifted it out and placed it on the windowsill, to shake the water off its legs and continue its path. Again I returned to work, slept, and as I put my indoor shoes on this morning, there on the tip of my right shoe, was our friend the Boxelder Bug, blending into the black fabric. As I considered the next best action, this little bug then crawled right onto the sole of the shoe, an inauspicious direction of certain demise, had I not been mindfully watching. So, carefully, it was offered conveyance via a small gatha card and invited to rest on the altar itself, the symbolic safest place of refuge for all living beings, both figuratively and literally in this hermitage. The subtle warmth of LED candles and water in an offering vessel, will provide additional support, for this living being to find its way, properly sheltered. Which brings me to the goal of this story. Friends write me at year’s end, the rapidly healing but still somewhat forlorn and sometimes “othered” one, who has struggled with illness and lack of stable, medically appropriate housing over years. With intended kindness but challenging misperception some write: “oh, you’ve probably moved” and others note my admirable “love of a Buddhist ‘itinerant’ life.” Buddhist monastics always have a vihara, kuti, temple or hermitage in which to shelter. Oh, so challenging and true has been this illness driven circumstance: a succession of temporarily offered living situations that were inadequate to the need for stable and permanent housing that does not continually cause severe immune system provocation due to mold or toxic building materials. These health vulnerabilities prompt most people, save the physicians and medical professionals who offer care, to turn away in overwhelming fear if witnessed for too long. However, the suffering of the truly homeless woman on the corner is ostensibly much greater. Our society offers temporary shelter to the houseless, only at 30 degrees, as if 31 degrees in the snow is not deadly enough. These human beings are hidden from sight for perhaps 12 hours, and then back to the streets they go, the depth of traumatic suffering and injury increasing with each repetition of this charitable cycle. We are all homeless until we have the blessings of our own home, and the means to sustain it. “Steadfast solidarity, rather than charity” I believe can be a mantra that guides effort to help more in this world who are suffering in myriad ways into decent and easeful circumstance where healing can truly take place. I have been deeply moved by the great generosity of those who have supported this Non-Toxic Tiny House Prototype project, which is not yet complete. The challenges of the pandemic have been considerable, and the correct circumstance, collaborators, and necessary resources to see the project through to proper completion have not yet gathered. The vision holds true, as well as infinitely growing need. Please do consider a year-end offering of generosity to sustain this vision. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!


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