Two hard things happened after Bernie’s major stroke. The first was coming to grips with the fact that our life won’t be what it was. The second was bearing witness to the things my husband wanted or needed, and that I could not provide. In face of suffering and disappointment, my big challenge is not to react. There are unfulfilled wants and needs, curves no one expected. Cultivating curiosity about what’s around that bend has never been easy for me.” | “I have walked dogs while leaves are falling over many years. Stanley will be 13 shortly and I find myself wondering if this is his last fall, just as I wondered a few months ago if that was his last summer and I will probably ask the same question about winter when we walk on the snow. And I wonder what it would be like one day for both of us to lie down in the woods because we’re tired or our legs hurt, and never get up again.” | “Years ago I took a course on how to raise money. I was told that, when meeting a potential donor, the hardest thing isn’t to ask for a specific donation, the hardest thing is to ask and THEN SHUT UP. I can apply that lesson to the most mundane of circumstances: “How are you?” I ask someone. And now, Eve, shut up and listen.” | “Bernie’s physical therapist doesn’t want Bernie to favor the left leg, which he feels, over the right, which he can’t feel after the stroke: “Don’t stand on the leg you know can hold you,” he tells him. “Stand on the leg you don’t know can hold you.” Let go of what you know, the working limb that gives you confidence, and lean on the other side, the side you don’t trust, that you can barely make out is there.” | “I didn’t grow up on Mother Goose rhymes, I grew up on my mother’s stories of the Shoah and what she had had to do to survive. These were tales of death but also grit and courage, and they’ve influenced me from the time I was a girl.” | “Bernie was about to go out on an errand yesterday when I saw him standing at the door, his funny hat framing a sweet and happy face. I tried to capture the image right there, not a great photo by any means, just a casual, intimate moment that I may go back to years hence to remember how happy we were.” | “Nothing deters Stanley and me from our daily expeditions to the woods, not even shooting and the occasional glimpses of men in hunting gear with guns.” | “I am an immigrant, having come to the US at the age of 7. I remember tiptoeing silently down the hallway back then and listening to my parents talk in their bedroom about money, about how to pay bills and afford schoolbooks and clothes. Often the words they repeated were: What will happen?”

WHO IS THIS GUY?

Bernie celebrated his birthday 2 days ago, and at my suggestion looked up all the blessings he got on his two Facebook pages. There were hundreds.

“I loved one thing,” he told me over dinner. “Someone wrote something over the top, telling me how wonderful I was, an authentic Bodhisattva [reliever of suffering], the Roshi [Zen master] of my generation, and a generally great man. Just two comments below that somebody else wrote: Who is this guy?

We both laughed hard. One person sees things one way, someone else sees the opposite, and a third person doesn’t even know what all the fuss is about. Remind you of a country we know?

I thought about that today, waiting for an order of fried chicken at Wolfie’s in South Deerfield (they make a good one), while the big television over the bar, which usually features the New England Patriots or the Boston Celtics, showed the Trumps beginning their big parade after the inauguration. There seemed to be fewer people on the streets than police, but those who were there seemed overjoyed that this country had a new beginning, while a few blocks away there were demonstrations, a few riots, and concussion grenades.

I have to admit it, it’s not easy for me to watch Donald Trump give his inaugural talk and pump his fist at the end. He seems like he’s always yelling and smirking, giving no one any respect or credit other than himself. I don’t envy the people who will work for him over the next four years. As I get fonder of the red hat on my altar saying Make America Great Again, I get less fond of the man who wore it.

But I do believe that Donald Trump is ushering in a new era in at least one respect. He showed that you don’t have to be a politician to win the Presidency. You don’t have to rise through the ranks, you don’t have to do chit for chat, help your peers get elected, draft legislation, run for office again and again, etc. You don’t have to hold public office, where you now have to spend most of your time raising money. If you know how to use the media and appeal to the people directly, you have a good shot.

I thought of that this morning when an article in the Washington Post wondered what Mark Zuckerberg, Founder of Facebook, is up to. He was in Texas shaking hands, meeting with locals, curious about how regular people live. And he had employed David Plouffe, Obama’s campaign manager, to work for his foundation.

What did he learn from Donald Trump? What are other young, talented people thinking watching this election, realizing they don’t have to change careers and run for office, they simply have to make some name for themselves and find the right message?

So while some people are mourning today as the beginning of the end, I think it may be the beginning of the beginning. It doesn’t matter at all that Democrats have no leadership in Washington, the next leader won’t come from Washington. He or she is watching right now, learning from Trump as much as s/he can, and pondering the next few moves. We have no way of knowing who that person will be, only that soon a certain phrase we’ve all heard since we were young will resonate in a new way: In America, anyone can be President.

THE DOGS OF THE KISKADEE HILLS

The Dogs of the Kiskadee Hills: Hunt for the Lynx begins a trilogy about a society of dogs after humans have destroyed themselves and much of the world. Living with their families and clans in the Kiskadee Hills, they’ve developed over generations a rich tradition and way of life, and have prospered. But now, an unknown killer is butchering the Kisdees of the Hills.

Academy Award-winning actor Jeff Bridges says: “You will never look at dogs the same again. Eve Marko gives us a story that explores the path that life on our planet has taken, and asks what your role in that course might be.”

BEARING WITNESS

Eve Marko - Bearing Witness

To bear witness to anything is to be as close to it as possible.

It’s not to read books or see movies about it, it’s not to have an opinion or tell a story. It’s to let go of all ideas about it—be in the space of not-knowing—and simply be there, up close and deeply personal.

Eve has been involved with the Zen Peacemaker Order’s Bearing Witness Retreats—in places of suffering and conflict since her first visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau.

There have been 20 retreats at the site of those concentration camps since, along with retreats in Bosnia, Rwanda and the Black Hills of South Dakota, near the Pine Ridge Reservation.

Upcoming Bearing Witness Retreats:

Bosnia, May 2016 (Please email for details)

ABOUT EVE MARKO

Eve Marko

Eve Marko is a writer of fiction and nonfiction, head teacher at the Green River Zen Center in Massachusetts, and a Founding Teacher of the Zen Peacemaker Order.

She has trained spiritually-based social activists and peacemakers in the US, Europe and the Middle East alongside her husband, Bernie Glassman, and has been a Spiritholder at retreats bearing witness to genocide at Auschwitz-Birkenau, Rwanda, the Black Hills in South Dakota, and Bosnia. Before that she worked at the Greyston Mandala for a decade, which provides housing, child care, jobs, and AIDS-related medical services in Yonkers, New York.

Eve’s articles on social activists have appeared in the magazines Tikkun and Shambhala Sun, and her collection for lay Zen practitoners, The Book of Householder Koans, will come out in late 2016. Her great love, Hunt for the Lynx, the first in her fantasy trilogy, The Dogs of the Kiskadee Hills, will come out in early 2016.

“When I was a young girl my dream was to be a hermit, live alone, and write serious literature. That’s not how things turned out. I got involved with people. I got involved in the world.

Two things matter to me right now: the creative spark and the aliveness of personal connection. In some way, they both come down to the same thing.”