a beautiful day

June 22nd, 2013

Nowadays I spend most of my time sitting in a chair pounding into a keyboard. It’s long and silent work, and I lose myself in it, but I know where to go for a kick of adrenaline. I click over to a social media site where I’ll find a new skirmish gathering speed, inciting the community’s opinion, anger, and rebuke. I understand why we do that—I, too, can be self-righteous—but I am battle fatigued. The world cries for compassion. It craves acceptance and belonging. It needs our attention, a kind word, a smile, a wave, a handshake, or a hug. Are we against everything? Angry at everyone? Sometimes it seems the only thing we’ll speak up for is a fight.

I push back from the fray and step out into the garden where the leaves rustle and bend in gentle rhythm with the wind. The air is fresh. The sky is blue. It’s an amazing place we live in when we’re not at odds with it. Who can contain the love that this one life brings with it? It is boundless.

On the street outside the gate, a woman walks a dog. I’ve glimpsed them nearly every day for what must be years. Her dog is old and the woman goes slow, the two now inseparable on the steepest part of the hill.

“It’s a beautiful day,” I say.
“It sure is.”

Someone once asked Maezumi Roshi why he practiced.
“To make my heart tender.”

– from Paradise in Plain Sight, coming next spring.

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



  1. “Are we against EVERYTHING ?” – a good example of why I am eager for that coming book.

    Comment by Bill — June 23, 2013 @ 3:32 am

  2. Makes me think, also, of other associations of the word “tender”. A tender heart can be a wounded, aching, bruised heart. And that kind of heart– without practice, without faith–can turn away from compassion. What do we do with the ways life changes us through pain? Shrink or expand?

    Comment by Laura — June 23, 2013 @ 4:55 pm

  3. I like Laura’s comment. Good question. Totally enjoy your writing, as well. Look forward to the rest of the book.

    Comment by Lena — June 24, 2013 @ 8:04 am

  4. What do we do? What needs to be done.

    Comment by Karen Maezen Miller — June 24, 2013 @ 8:08 am

  5. Our media/cultural/social world can sound so overwhelmed with negativity/judgment/anger. It makes more “news” impact. I am also looking forward to “Paradise” next spring.

    Comment by Mary P. — June 24, 2013 @ 11:12 am

  6. I got in a fight a couple of hours ago with my husband. We are both sad and weary. He just walked by and said, “I am going to the store…be back in a second.” I said, “Ok.” I was in the middle of reading this post. We retreat, go quiet and begin again, careful not to harm. Thank you Karen.

    Comment by Kirsten — June 24, 2013 @ 3:38 pm

  7. Kirsten–I have had many of those moments. What always seems miraculous is how dramatically and quickly feelings (which seem so fixed when they have us in their grips) dissipate and change.

    Another thought on ‘tender’. To tend. To care for.

    Comment by Laura — June 24, 2013 @ 6:46 pm

  8. Thank you Laura…it is a special thing to feel understood.

    Comment by Kirsten — June 24, 2013 @ 7:10 pm

  9. Thanks.

    Comment by Paul Brennan — June 25, 2013 @ 2:41 am

  10. Ditto. I hope it is a beautiful day where you are.

    Comment by Laura — June 25, 2013 @ 3:00 am

  11. Blogged along these same lines myself today – http://www.writingva.com/to-be-productive-be-positive/. Thank you for a lovely post – and for all you do, for that matter! You’re one of those positive energy givers, so rare, so beloved.

    Comment by Mary H Ruth — June 25, 2013 @ 7:01 am

  12. Hi Karen, Hi everyone–you know this is really a koan–what’s the meaning of your life? “It’s a beautiful day!” But said to another, in an actuality of compassion, “it’s a beautiful day” is love/compassion in action.

    Thank you, again, Maezen

    Comment by daniel — June 25, 2013 @ 6:20 pm

  13. Dear Maezen, I love your words here. Nothing really to add to the beautiful comments of your readers, except that I’m here, too, grateful to you and eagerly awaiting the birth of your book. Blessings on your work! I know how hard it is to write, how good it feels to finish, how eagerly your offering will be received. Carry on!

    Comment by Katrina Kenison — June 27, 2013 @ 6:00 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

archives by month