THINGS THAT MATTER

“Look Aussie, we’re right by Local Burger, which sells the best hamburger in our area. Would you like a cheeseburger?”

“Is the Pope Catholic?”

“So, what do you want?”

“Cheeseburger hold the roll, tomato, lettuce, and pickle.”

“Aussie, that just leaves the meat and cheese.”

“I know what counts.”

Someone from the Zen Peacemaker Order recently shared about her life and summed it up by saying: “It’s glorious to put the things that matter right in front of you.” It’s glorious not to get distracted or interrupted. And maybe most glorious of all is to know what things matter.

When Bernie got sick with his big stroke, there was never any question about what mattered; the day was framed by it. Every morning I’d review the schedule of priorities that I’d put together the evening before, go to him when he got up, keep an eye and ear out for when he showered and dressed, when he went downstairs, when the caregiver arrived. I’d review the priorities with her, his work schedule and exercises, the people he wished to talk to.

Other things also counted, including my teaching and finishing The Book of Householder Koans, but nothing was as immediate as taking care of someone, or raising a child, doing all the work that goes with dependence. Dependence isn’t a good word in this American culture. We are dependent when we’re young, are rushed into independence as soon as we’re able (some earlier than others), and if we’re lucky to live long enough, return to dependence when we’re old. That’s one of the biggest teachings we get in life.

After Bernie died, I wasn’t sure what mattered anymore. There were always too many priorities, I didn’t know what to put right in front of me day in, day out, as I’d  known back then.

After the drought we had this past summer, the worst in the 20 years I’ve lived here, I don’t take rain or water for granted. Options for walking the dogs shrank because everything dried up and it was hard to take them anywhere in the heat of summer with no available water for them to drink. We got a few big rainstorms this past month, but the thirsty earth absorbed all of it, leaving nothing in ponds or waterholes. Nevertheless, the earth got looser, even muddier, and we finally got warnings of possible flooding in the storm we had yesterday (we hadn’t gotten any of those since springtime).

I walked Aussie in late afternoon when the rain stopped and felt overjoyed to see water streaming out of culverts, ponds filling up, and Aussie splashing happily in the creek adjoining our road.  I remembered Standing Rock and the thousands of people, Native Americans and non-, who became Water Protectors in the summer and fall of 2016. It was as if the thing that mattered became visible to all of them, and they hurried to Standing Rock to stop that pipeline.

The water sparkled under the blue skies and afternoon sun, reaching our parched trees, plants and flowers, turning the grass finally green now, when fall is underway.

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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.

THE BOOK OF HOUSEHOLDER KOANS

The Book of Householder Koans - Eve Myonen Marko & Wendy Egyoku NakaoThe Book of Householder Koans is a collection of koans created by 21st century Zen practitioners living a lay life in the West. The koans deal with the challenges of relationships, raising children, work, money, love, loss, old age, and death, and come from practitioners across three continents, and with commentaries by two Western teachers.

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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

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.

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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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