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.”

OMG! YOU’RE GONNA BE 70?

“Aussie, I’m going to be 70 tomorrow.”

“OMG, you’re old!”

“You think so, Auss?”

“You’re ancient and decrepit! And you adopted me, the embodiment of young, free, and wild?”

“You’re not that young, Auss. I recently read that they are comparing dog ages to human ages in a new way. Instead of saying that your one year is equivalent to 7 of mine, they’re saying that in the early time of your life the curve is much steeper, and later it flattens out.”

“Huh?”

“That means that you, Aussie, a little over 2 years old, are equivalent in your life trajectory to me at 40.”

“Were you young, free, and wild at 40?”

“At 40 I was living and working in Yonkers with Bernie and other Zennies.”

“I knew it! You were never frivolous and crazy. You never broke any rules!”

“Little do you know, Aussie.”

“Tell me some stories.”

“I don’t want to shock your 40 year-old ears.”

“Oh, why did you ever adopt me? I don’t want to be raised by an old woman.”

“Aussie, I give you and Harry a big, beautiful back yard in which to play. I also take you out for your walks every single day regardless of weather. Who took you out in the snowstorm where there was no one else around, not even snowplows?”

“Did you think of what happens to me if you die? Did you leave me in your will?”

“Actually, Aussie, I did leave money in my will for people to take care of you and Harry. Not a lot, just enough.”

“If I’d known about this earlier I’d have asked Tim to dig you a grave BEFORE the snowstorm. Now there’s a ton of snow and everything’s frozen, and you’re too big to fit into the freezer alongside all our marrow bones. And between you and our marrow bones, guess what’s staying in the freezer.”

“Aussie, you are being very nasty today.”

“I’m being practical. Try to last till spring when the ground defrosts. Tim could dig a grave between Stanley and the tool shed, there’s enough space as long as you don’t put on more weight.”

“This is the nicest birthday celebration I’ve ever had, Aussie. Thanks.”

“Speaking of birthday celebration, what are you doing for your 70th?”

“Tomorrow evening we start a meditation retreat.”

“I knew it! I knew it! You are such a Zen nerd!”

“Come on, Auss—”

“Others eat steak, they run around, have  a party, eat steak, they play, eat steak, they laugh and joke around, eat steak—”

“Bernie wanted to do that, Auss. We talked one evening, four months before he died, about how much he was still exercising, and he said that he was working hard to get in shape so that he could take me away for my 70th.”

“Too bad he didn’t make it.”

“Even then I knew he wouldn’t be in shape to do that.”

“Did you tell him?”

“No, Aussie, I just said thank you.”

“So how are you going to spend the VERY FEW days left to you to live?”

“I wish you wouldn’t put it that way, Auss.”

“We have to face facts.”

“Remember the red dahlia that bloomed late in September?”

“Of course. What a dummy, I thought. If you’re going to bloom so late, why bother?”

“But it did bother, you see, Aussie? That’s the point. For some reason that red dahlia made it out of the ground late, and then it bloomed and opened up to reveal the most gorgeous color, remember? It could feel the cold coming but it relished every sunny day. Just days before the freeze it exploded and sent out so much beauty.”

“You’re not a dahlia.”

“I want to fold back into fullness, Auss.”

“You’re withdrawing from life?”

“Not one bit.  As I go deeper and deeper into fullness I also open up to the world more and more. One goes with the other.”

“You’re not just going to sit and meditate, are you? If you are, I’m going back into adoption.”

“Don’t worry, Auss. I’ll do what I always did, but not much more. Personal epiphany is nice, but what’s even nicer is connecting more and more with humans and nonhumans—”

“Dogs!”

“No, everything. Even black matter across all space and time—everything!”

“Speaking of fullness, can you feed me now?”

“That red dahlia was fearless, Aussie. I’m following in her footsteps.”

“Okay, just don’t forget what we dogs do to flowers.”

“Eat them?”

“Pee on them. Just saying.”

 

The blog will be on retreat till Monday.

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