Posts Tagged ‘Time’

the longest day of my life

August 30th, 2011    -    8 Comments

It’s the day before the start of middle school. I take my daughter to the campus to pick up her sixth grade class schedule. Half hidden by their summer growth spurts are the kids we’ve always known and yet never seen before.

Georgia gambols over the dusty grounds with a pack of friends while I sit under my hat like a mom perched on the rim of a playground. All the action is inside the circle.

Everything moves in patterns and cycles repeating, repeating.

The temperature cools. The sunset shaves off two minutes of daylight. It’s Tuesday, so I wheel the trash cans to the curb. Standing there I recall another dusk when I carried the baby to the sidewalk, so weary, so done, waiting for Daddy’s car to turn into view so I could end the longest day of my life.

It wasn’t long and it wasn’t over. The morning will come and I will love – I will really love – this day forever.

A sad prayer and promise for my happy friend Joan, on what began as another day and ended as her last.

love stories

August 22nd, 2011    -    38 Comments

I have two books and one story to give away this week. Like all stories, they are love stories.

A few weeks ago I answered an invitation to read and review this acclaimed new book, To Be Sung Underwater by Tom McNeal. Why am I suddenly saying yes to reviewing books? Perhaps because it’s summer; perhaps to avoid my own writing. That’s okay. When it’s time to take your time, a book is as good as a day on the lake. Here the author dips into a favorite well of mine: how we tell old stories to ourselves; how we salvage, refinish, embroider, store, and vainly, always vainly, try to relive the past. The book has a vintage feel to it, like its solid hardcover heft. The characters are old-school and middle-aged; they can ring false to one another and sometimes to the reader as well. But there is a beating heart here that is pure, placid and wide. It is romance: the romance we can only lose, since romance is by definition long gone. And then when I read that the author was 63 years old, with 12 years between his first novel and this, his second, and that he builds homes for a living, and has an orange grove on his California homestead, well, I loved all that even more than the fiction. You know I have a thing about orange trees: they hold the fruit for a long time before they let it go. McNeal clearly knows how to take his time and he knows how to spend it. I’ll gladly send this one to you so you can love time all by yourself.

The publisher sent me a crisp new copy of that book with a chapter of mine in it, Right Here With You: Bringing Mindful Awareness into Our Relationships. It’s got all the Buddhist regulars in it, and a few of us irregulars, and I’m sure it’s good because the Dharma is always good. I haven’t read it because I don’t read the kind of books that have me in them, but be sure to ask if it’s right for you now.

And finally, I’ll send you a second time to the online excerpt from my most recent magazine article, “Waking up Alone,” in the current issue of the Shambhala Sun. The issue focuses on the wisdom of love, and my article is about how we never know what love is until the love story ends.

Leave a comment on this post with the name of either or both books, if you want them. I’ll choose a winner next Monday.

Less than three weeks til The Art of Mindfulness in Houston.

Subscribe to my newsletter • Come to a retreat • Fan me • Follow me.

 

that backward step

August 9th, 2011    -    10 Comments

I remember her voice, her self-introduction, so needless and formal, on the answering machine. “Karen, this is your Mom.” I listened quickly, so I wouldn’t hear what I was hearing. How long had she been announcing herself to me that way? All along? Not to disturb, not to impose, not to assume any rank or power in my all-together independent world? Mother to mother, I could recognize something now in the subtle way she stepped back and let go, even on an answering machine. Just love. — Momma Zen

On Friday my daughter turns 12. These are the days of the backward step. I do a lot of stepping back — out of her way, off of her back, to the other side of a newly closed door — but it’s still not enough. Give me a little more time, baby, to learn to let you go.

Today someone said to me, “It seems like only yesterday.”

“Not really,” I said. “It seems like forever.”

Love.

Subscribe to my newsletter • Come to a retreat • Fan me • Follow me.

hello my name is

September 21st, 2010    -    11 Comments

There exists only the present instant, a Now which always and without end is
itself new. There is no yesterday or any tomorrow, but only Now, as it was a
thousand years ago and as it will be a thousand years hence.
Meister Eckhart

My teacher Nyogen Roshi sent that quote to me in an email recently, suggesting that “you might find it useful in one of your upcoming programs.” Emailing is something we do sparingly, our relationship resting solely on the alchemy of face-to-face proximity. The rarity of his emails ensures that they are highly visible; the fact is, every email I receive is itself rare and highly visible to me, or my practice has lapsed, as Meister Eckhart observes.

On Saturday at the Mother’s Plunge in Boston, I started the way I always start – by introducing myself. “My name is Karen Maezen Miller,” I said, and go on to tell them that “Karen is the name my mother gave me, Maezen is the name my Buddhist teacher gave me, and Miller is the name Mr. Miller gave me.” I use all three names, and in that way I carry forward three streams of wisdom inextricable to every moment of my life and work. My name is not just my name. It is my teaching. When I state my name I am also stating my practice: the realization that no part of my life is more or less important. No part battles with another because there are no parts. It is all one life and all one practice.

Among the many practical aspects of Zen training is the protocol of its form: the way certain customs are prescribed and therefore serve to eradicate self-consciousness and confusion. Zen training tells us where to put our arms and legs, for instance, which is a question of considerable consternation for most of us most of the time. Practical too is the protocol of my formal practice in the dokusan room, the private interview room within which I meet and work with my teacher face-to-face. Although I have practiced with Nyogen Roshi for 10 years, every time I meet with him in dokusan, which is at least once a week (and once a day during retreats) I begin by introducing myself. read more

give it the sun

May 4th, 2010    -    9 Comments

Gardens, like children, are forgiving; gardens grow. Love, even clumsy and unrefined, cultivates. Time, unhurried, is never wasted. Plants grow heavenward, strong and true, toward the even and ever-present light.

Right in front of me, in plain sight, I have finally seen what the full sun can do. The sun gives attention, and attention fixes everything. It is up to me to put into practice the larger lesson I’ve been shown.

If I encounter you on my way today, I’ll look at you and say hello.

If the phone rings, I’ll answer. If you send me a message, I’ll respond.

When my husband opens the front door, I’ll stop what I am doing to greet him.

When my daughter comes home from school, I will have nothing to do. We will have no place to run. We will lounge on the floor or linger on the lawn. When she speaks, I will listen, without steering the conversation to a conclusion. If she has a scheme, I’ll go along, and let her pull me off course. We will let the hours lapse and the afternoon drift. When she looks at me, and even when she doesn’t, I will embrace her in the shine of my smile.

Today, for a moment more than I think I can bear, I will give her attention. I will give you attention. I will give this world my complete attention. I will give it the sun.

Chapter 16, Hand Wash Cold

You’re just in time for two, count ’em, two giveaways of Hand Wash Cold this week: at the Wishstudio blog and at Imene’s Journey to a Happy Simple Life. Give them both your complete attention before the winners are named this weekend. Good luck!

For a pictorial reader’s guide to my home and garden, view the photo album on the Facebook Momma Zen fan page. Photos by Chris Bertrand.

Subscribe to my newsletter • Come to my retreat • Fan me • Follow me.

Mashed tomorrows and gravy

September 8th, 2009    -    13 Comments

mashed-potato“What day is tomorrow?” my daughter asks. She’s three years old and I couldn’t be more pleased that she has learned the days of the week.

It seems precocious, and more evidence of what I hope will be an accelerated future.

“Wednesday,” I say.

“No, what day is tomorrow?” she asks again.

“Today is Tuesday, so tomorrow is Wednesday.”

“But when is it tomorrow?”

I’m no longer sure what she is asking.

“It goes Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday,” she ticks them off. “But when is it Tomorrow?”

When is that day called “Tomorrow” that factors so eternally in our plans and schemes? I gape at her clear-eyed misperception, at her supremely intelligent confusion. How many times have I lost her in the mists of my ramblings about that never-to-come day?

Everything, it must seem to her, is going to happen Tomorrow. And for good reason: it’s where we adults live most of the time, straddling the yucky puddle of the here and now, teetering on our tippy toes to affix one foot on a better future. One we think we can control. It simply can’t be done, and so we keep toppling over, face first into our good intentions. We complain that our lives are out of balance, and wish we could one day learn how to live in the moment.

I hear a lot about living in the moment. I hear about how and why and when and how hard it is to live in the moment. The truth is, there is not a single person alive who is living anywhere but the moment. It’s just not the moment we have in mind. The moment we aspire to live in is a different kind of moment, a better kind. A moment of solitude, perhaps, of quiet satisfaction, of thrilling accomplishment or satisfying retribution, of deep confidence and unshakable certainty, with children asleep and ducks lined up and ships come in and an extra spoonful of gravy on top. That’s the moment we are waiting to relish.

Subscribe to my newsletter • Come to my retreat • Fan me • Follow me.

Pages: Prev 1 2 3 4

archives by month

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.