When you’re grieving you may no longer have the emotional bandwidth you once had. You may not be excessively happy, but neither are you always sad. What is certain is that you reject small talk and expressions of security, the underlying assumption that things will keep on going as they are and that everything will be okay.” | “Now I know that every story has its gates. If you walk through any one of these gates you’ll fall and hang in the abyss between what you badly wanted and what really happened, what you’d hoped for and how you’d messed up. Somewhere at the very bottom I’ve discovered a jewel that’s hard to describe, only that it has a lot to do with forgiveness.” | “I hurry over as soon as I hear him sitting up in bed. “How did you sleep?” “Fine.” “How do you feel?” “Fine.” But I look at the face, the body, the man, and what I’m really asking is: So today, who are you? Who are you, really?” | “And then one day, when it’s almost too late and fall is just around the corner, the orange dahlia emerges. A human peers closely: Look at that! Did you know that was there? Wasn’t there last summer, right? And not the summer before that, right? But there it is, flashing its colors shyly in the sunlight, waving at the phlox and nearby purple asters, as if to say: I made it; I’m here, even if not for very long.” | “It’s as if the trees are saying: Take your place among us. The small shrubs that struggle for sunlight are saying: Take your place among us. The fallen branches say: Take your place among us. The grass that’s brown for lack of rain tells me: Take your place among us. The only place you stand out is inside your brain; everywhere else you’re just taking your place among everything.”

A BIRTHDAY, RBG, AND BEING A TREE

“Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday to Aussie! Happy birthday to you.” Aussie was three years old yesterday.

“I’m a dog, I don’t do birthdays.”

“I do birthdays, Aussie. I love to celebrate, get a cake, go out. We’re also celebrating that you’ve been here two years! Remember when you came to us from Texas?”

“I was supposed to go to Washington and be the White House dog, but the truck got lost and here I am.”

“And lucky for you, Auss, because you’d be homeless once again after January. They’ll throw you out to the streets, you watch.”

“He won’t take me to Mar-A-Lago? I can do Florida.”

“Naah, you’re a New England dog now, Aussie. Remember how much you love the snow?”

“I want to be a Dixie dog.”

“Being a Dixie dog is not so kosher anymore, Aussie. People don’t like Dixie because it brings up the antebellum South.”

“What happens to Dixie cups?”

“You know what else, Auss? Ruth Bader Ginsberg died.”

“Is that bad?”

“I’ll miss her very much. She was so fierce and honest. Some people say it’s a catastrophe, but actually she lived a long time and was very ill, she couldn’t go on much longer. She once repeated this advice that her mother-in-law gave her:  ‘In every good marriage it helps sometimes to be a little deaf.’”

“What?”

“It helps to be a little deaf. Meaning that if somebody says something nasty or insensitive to you, it’s not bad to pretend you’re deaf and never heard it.”

“What?”

I didn’t know RBG died Friday till I returned from the zendo this afternoon and opened up my computer. The media, of course, gave some space to Ginsberg’s humanity and achievements but focused bigly, in Trump’s words, on the politics of her death.

I almost wrote dirty politics, but politics isn’t dirty in and of itself, it’s how it mixes with our fears and small, stubborn insanities that makes politics dirty. Instantly the ramparts go up, the archers and shooters take their place, and instead of embodying Ginsberg’s combination of fierceness and respect for all, we’re into hate and contempt.

The more I actively resist getting pulled into the vitriol of this election, the harder life seems to make it for me, almost as if it’s saying: You thought you could weather these lies and calumny that are our daily Presidential staples—now see this! Where is your peace now?

Ruth Bader Ginsberg centers me. She was fierce, but not insulting. A lady, but at no cost to her brilliance or tenacity. She stood firm, using her skills and gifts to push the horizon just a little further, and a little further. The choice between resignation and backlash isn’t the only one available to us. If anything, these are the times when we should take a break to mourn and reflect on what we’ve learned from her.

Today was the first morning we returned to the zendo to do a memorial service for a man who died so young. I  reflected on the vast hope we put into our children, how much we want them to be well, to succeed, to be happy. I could see the young man’s photo close by while the trees outside waved and fluttered, clearly aware of fall.

That’s what I want to be like, I thought. I want to sit like a tree, stand like a tree, and move like a tree. Be strong and centered, giving and taking with the seasons, harboring life inside and underneath, in silent, endless communion with the rest of the world.

Instead, I got angry after reading the papers.

“I can’t believe that you want to be THAT MAN’S dog, Aussie.”

“I can’t hear a word you say.”

“You know how he loathed RBG? He hates strong females, Auss.”

“Not a word.”

“He doesn’t care about dogs. He doesn’t care about nature, about animals, about anything that isn’t money.”

“What did you say?”

“Comes January they’ll throw you out of that White House quicker than you could say Boo.”

“Bow Wow, not Boo.”

“And stop pretending you can’t hear, you’re a dog, you have better hearing than I do.”

“I’m pretending to be deaf so as not to ruin our relationship. Try to be a little grateful for my wisdom and maturity. From now on I won’t hear a word you say. Nothing will penetrate, promise.”

“I bought you steak for your birthday, Aussie.”

“Where is it?”

 

Make A Donation

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.”

Make A Donation

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)

Make A Donation

ABOUT EVE MARKO

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, is coming 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.”

Make A Donation