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.”

THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT

“Aussie, I’m leaving!”

“OMG, it’s the end of the world!”

“It’s not the end of the world, Auss.”

“The pack is done. Finito. First Harry’s gone, and now you.”

“Only for a short time, Aussie. Not the end of the world.”

“Easy for you to say. The pack is gone. The world as I know it is gone.”

I remember Aussie’s words when I enter Newark Airport, in New Jersey. There are lines in front of the United counter, but almost no one in the lines for general security. Once on the other side, I look up at the monitor, its five panels usually filled with listings of United flights flying around the world, and you can see above how many flights they show. Only 2/3 of one panel shows flights, the others are either blank or carry ads.

I look at CIBO and other food express markets. No sandwiches, just a few varieties of potato chips.

Bernie and I flew many times through Newark, a hub for United Airlines, and I would complain about the people squeezing sideways just to walk through the concourses and, of course, the long lines in the women’s restrooms. Today there is no line in the women’s restroom.

You’d think the airport would look cavernous without people, but if anything, it seems to have shrunk. Hudson Bookstores, closed. Museum shop, closed. Gucci and dozens of other fancy shops, closed. I can’t help it, when I see a store dark on the other side of the window, I get mournful.

The airport and airline workers I run into are wonderful. You can see their smiles behind their masks, trying to reassure us, trying to help out, not denying the challenges but clear, firm, and comforting. It can’t be easy for them, walking down deserted concourses, passing the small passenger vehicles that are parked, empty, their drivers without riders, without tips.

They carry on bravely. United has announced that pending a major improvement in the virus control or the passage of another big relief bill for airlines, it will probably let go of 40% of its labor force as of October 1. Still they smile and offer to help you with the bag or the check-in. They’re kind with their words and generous with their time. They’re not all that busy.

Tim is taking care of Aussie in the time that I’m gone. Tim has always been a part of our packl. I’m already thinking of returning on a Sunday morning. Her head will pop out of the dog-door to see who arrived in the garage.

“You’re back! The world hasn’t ended after all!”

By the time I leave the airport in Tel-Aviv to go up to Jerusalem, I will have seen that world behind a mask for at least 16 hours. It’s easier for me, I’m not a little girl or boy like so many around me on the plane, who talk and cry and shout gleefully from behind a mask. I’m not like so many others in families here, who hope to be heard through their masks. I’m alone.

Wearing a mask this long gives one a sense of how so many others live, working and talking from behind a mask for many hours each day, knowing that with all those precautions, they’re exposed.

I will be warned at the Israeli airport to stay away from people and always, always wear a mask. My brother will be waiting for me. And when it’s just the two of us together, I think I will give him the biggest hug of my life.

 

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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.”

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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)

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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.”

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