WHO HAS BROUGHT US TO THIS

Earlier today I drove down to New York. Now, this evening, I wait for a flight to Switzerland to see dear friends, spend the weekend with them, and Sunday morning take two flights to Belgrade and then Montenegro.

I’ve been urging my sister to celebrate her 70th birthday for a year, but once the Middle East war broke out, she, living in Jerusalem, grew tepid. “How can I celebrate when all this is going on?” she’d say. I pushed and pushed, and now we are supposed to meet at the airport in Montenegro on Sunday early afternoon and spend 4 days together celebrating with her. Next Thursday will be the long flight home.

It can all go south depending on the war, especially if Israel and Hezbollah ratchet things up in the north.

There’s a famous Jewish blessing that I love to invoke, pronounced at special times. Literally, it translates to this: Blessed are You, Adonai our G-d, Sovereign of all, who has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us to this occasion. I always liked to shorten it to: Blessed are You, Sovereign of all, who has brought us to this day. And now I shorten it even further: Blessed are you, Sovereign of all, who has brought us to THIS.

THIS was with me all day: driving down to New York. Having an early dinner at a Spanish restaurant with a dear friend, who then takes me to the airport. THIS was standing on a long security line, fumbling with 30-year-old luggage, and now sitting by a window looking at airplanes pulling to the gate while sipping a glass of water.

I used to think of it as things falling into place, pieces fitting one into another, but that’s just viewing life through the lens of my own needs, schedules and arrangements. Things do fall into place, but not in any way that I understand it.

Sometimes that calls for a little patience with upset people on long lines and a backpack over the shoulder. I look forward to trying my new foot swing onboard, suspended from the fold-out table towards the floor, on which I could rest my feet. My legs are short, but in some aircraft there’s no room to stretch at all in Economy, so I bought this new travel contraption. We’ll see how it works.

The past diverts me with memories. Brother, sister and I grew up in a highly fragmented and partisan family. One was my mother’s daughter, the other my father’s, the third negotiating his way carefully in between. The divides were sharp, the conflict between parents projected onto—and then carried out by—the next generation.

It didn’t help that the three of us chose different lives, different religious traditions (or none at all), very different styles of family. I suspect we’ll have some discussions about the war in the Middle East and maybe exchange sharp remarks. Denial or staying mute is no longer an option. It is a reflection of how much we now accept each other that we can take risks, disagree bigly (I thank Donald Trump for that great word). It demanded hard work from us.

One of us eats only kosher food, but we’ll eat meals together, swim, go for walks and stand up for each other whenever necessary. This last occurred to me when my brother related that a few months ago he was in the Brussels Airport when a man, spotting his yarmulke, called him a dirty Jew. Looking forward to our trip together, I thought to myself: Just try it. Try it with me around.

I am pretty in one way, and not at all pretty when I lose my temper.

But first, a flight to Zurich and a train to Bern. So much pleasure for this homebound woman to hang out with old friends and co-workers, people who knew me with Bernie, and even just post-Bernie. Only there isn’t really post-Bernie.

I don’t know how regularly I will post over the next 8 days, if at all. At times I want to take a real break from the blog, but always there’s a drive to make sense and create meaning, and I do that by writing these posts. We will see.

Thank you very much for sending in enough money to send immigrant children to summer camp. I let Jimena Pareja know we’re sending a dozen children and I’ll give her the money upon my return. Writing and giving her the check will evoke in me the same old blessing: Blessed are You, Sovereign of all, who has brought us to THIS.

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You can also send a check to: Eve Marko, POB 174, Montague, MA 01351. Please write on the memo line whether this is in support or immigrant families or of my blog. Thank you.

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THE DOGS OF THE KISKADEE HILLS

Eve Marko - The Dogs of the Kiskadee Hills: Hunt for the LynxThe 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.”

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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.

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You can also send a check to: Eve Marko, POB 174, Montague, MA 01351. Please write on the memo line whether this is in support or immigrant families or of my blog. Thank you.

ABOUT EVE MARKO

Eve Marko is a Founding Teacher of the Zen Peacemaker Order and head teacher at the Green River Zen Center in Massachusetts. She received dharma transmission and inka from Bernie Glassman. She is also a writer and editor of fiction and nonfiction.

Eve has trained spiritually-based social activists and peacemakers in the US, Europe and the Middle East, and has been a Spiritholder at retreats bearing witness to genocide at Auschwitz-Birkenau, Rwanda, and the Black Hills in South Dakota. Before that she worked at the Greyston Mandala, 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 TricycleShambhala Sun, and Tikkun. Her collection of Zen koans for modern Zen practitioners in collaboration with Roshi Wendy Egyoku Nakao, The Book of Householder Koans: Waking Up In the Land of Attachments, came out in February 2020.

Hunt for the Lynx, the first in her fantasy trilogy, The Dogs of the Kiskadee Hills, was published in 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.”

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You can also send a check to: Eve Marko, POB 174, Montague, MA 01351. Please write on the memo line whether this is in support or immigrant families or of my blog. Thank you.