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?”


photo by Leeann Warner

. . . and highly premature. I’m still living and plan to be living for a while  longer.

I don’t know why Eve is such a drama queen, always expecting the worst. I once asked her and she said it’s because she’s Jewish. Let me tell you, that woman has catastrophe in her bones! She does make an effort, looks for my cheerful snoring face first thing in the morning, searches for signs of early spring, loves to open up windows and cause the rest of us to freeze to death, but actually, the woman has catastrophe in her blood cells.

And who’s the one who takes care of that? Who’s the one that gets her to look up at the sun and the sky, who takes her out on walks into the woods, who reminds her to remember the birds outside, to remember life?


I grin, I smile, I wag my tail, I chase after squirrels. I scrounge around for sunflower seeds under the bird feeders so that she could yell at me. I dig up old bones and bring them upstairs and shake the mud loose right in front of her onto the rug so that she could get pissed–because the wise ones among us know that there’s energy in getting pissed!

Now who’s going to do that for her once I’m gone? She threatens that the minute I go she’ll bring two new dogs into the house. No mourning, not even a shiva! If she does that you’ll hear from me from beyond the grave, I promise.

Why do I wear that stupid red Eddie Bauer winter coat when we go out? For her sake. She thinks she’s doing it for me, but in fact she has no idea who the true Bodhisattva is around here. We’re always doing things for you humans, but you guys think you’re taking care of us.

I let her take me out on walks in the coldest of days—I mean like: Say what? Do you really think that at my age I need to walk in 0 degrees, even in an Eddie Bauer winter coat? She’s annoyed, says Look at all the layers I have to put on to take you out, and I grin and wag my tail when I’m really thinking: You dummy, I’m doing this for you! Or going into the woods during shooting season for God’s sake, and wearing that ridiculous orange vest that won’t deter any hunter who’s not drinking too much from taking a good shot at me!

Or letting her take me to Leeann, where she sees a dozen crazy dogs playing rough—like at my age I really need Romper Room! But do I complain? Do I report her for abuse? No, sir, I wag my tail as Leeann marches me off to the horde, and as soon as that malamute scampers over I whisper: Shove off, Daisy Lou, even as I could hear Eve behind me thinking: Isn’t that sweet!

Does she know any of this? In fact, I pretend to be deaf so as not to embarrass her, especially when she’s singing to me or talking like an idiot: Come on, you pretty dog. Oh Stanie Mannie Shmannie. Oh love love love, doggie doggie dog. Disgusting, but do I let her know I can hear every embarrassing word? I do not. She makes up the most awful songs on earth, things she’d never tell you in her blog, you don’t want to hear the tune or you’ll get sick. Maybe one day when she’s not watching I’ll put it all on YouTube, I’m sure it’ll go viral.

And then there’s the other Zen guy there who leaves half his food on his plate and sneaks it down to me. Do you think I eat it because I’m hungry? Of course not, I do it to give him pleasure. Two Zen teachers acting silly, but you see, all that singing and feeding and purring gets the love out of them. It builds up affection and enthusiasm, gets those nurturing hormones working, and I know that’s going to lengthen their days even if they don’t.

Who do I do it all for? For her! For him! For them!

You know what I bring to her life? Delight. Da-light. I bring delight to her life1


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.”


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)


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.”