An american portrait
Karen Maezen Miller Blog
by Karen Maezen Miller
1w ago
I visited Washington DC a few weeks ago. It was 100 degrees; the grand boulevards were all but empty. I walked a merciless mile through patches of shade to the National Portrait Gallery. I’d never been. I’m not sure I will go back or that it will still be there if I do. What will become of this place and we people when all is said and done? These days we hear a lot of racket about our founding fathers and their original intentions. We hear mostly from people who interpret our history and constitution, indeed all our laws, by the notion that they, and they alone, uphold the narrow meaning of t ..read more
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Do not resuscitate
Karen Maezen Miller Blog
by Karen Maezen Miller
2w ago
My husband and I have been trying to muster the wherewithal to update our will and advance healthcare directives. Twenty-odd years ago, we sat down with an attorney friend and in one evening had the whole thing knocked out. That’s probably because we felt like we were still in the middle of life, where time seems suspended. That can happen with a young marriage, a new home, and a small child. The future was far off, and events that would happen there were just a fuzzy abstraction. Not so now, for obvious reasons. Not so now at all. Sometime in the last year my Zen teacher, who is a good twent ..read more
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The memory of a chair
Karen Maezen Miller Blog
by Karen Maezen Miller
5M ago
When I was 16, I got a chair for my birthday. It was a little wicker chair from Pier 1. Nothing about it seems unusual to me now except that I asked for it. Who asks for a chair for their birthday? Perhaps I was trying to piece together a different kind of life than the one I had. My room was already too small for the furniture in it. You had to walk sideways to squeeze between the bed and bureau. Maybe I used that chair to hold clothes or homework. I can’t remember much about it, except that it was mine, and that mattered to me then. I took the chair with me into all the places I lived over ..read more
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It was night and it was raining
Karen Maezen Miller Blog
by Karen Maezen Miller
5M ago
I don’t know what might have caused my sister and me to be riding in the back of our ’57 Chevrolet, the light green sedan that my dad would drive for many more years. I don’t know how or where we found ourselves motoring slowly through a flooded street, water lapping in waves, into the dark ahead. I was afraid, that much I remember. We pulled into a gas station. Was it so my dad could call my mom on the pay phone? We would be late. She would be worried. Was it to buy cigarettes or a beer? To ask for directions? Were we lost? Were we stuck? Would we make it? We didn’t say any of these things o ..read more
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Telling women’s stories
Karen Maezen Miller Blog
by Karen Maezen Miller
6M ago
Women’s stories are hard to believe. And they are hard to tell. They don’t fit the narrative, someone will tell you. They are called exaggerated, overemotional, irrational, and unbelievable. Women’s stories are often horror stories. They terrify us because we realize how vulnerable and powerless women are. The other day I watched the documentary American Nightmare on TV. It was a story you couldn’t turn away from, although many had. A man and woman are attacked in their bed in the middle of the night by a masked intruder. The man is knocked out while the woman is drugged and kidnapped. She sp ..read more
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Are you ok
Karen Maezen Miller Blog
by Karen Maezen Miller
6M ago
The other week I went to my bank’s ATM to make a withdrawal and it wasn’t working. I turned around and left to try again the next day. When I came back, the ATM still wasn’t working. It felt kind of weird, but I went inside the bank. I mean, who goes inside a bank anymore? For that matter, who needs cash? Just the people who do things like me, I suppose. There was only one person inside, a teller. There were empty desks and chairs where you might have sat if you’d been opening an account, applying for a loan, or purchasing a CD in the old days, but this one fellow was it. He was the whole ban ..read more
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Isn’t this everything
Karen Maezen Miller Blog
by Karen Maezen Miller
10M ago
The other day I drove down the hill and into a fog bank. A fog bank, yes, out of the blue. The weather is so odd around here — cloudy, gray, foggy— ­strange for September, which has always been our hottest month of the year. But that was then. Just about all weather is strange these days, but ours is a stranger-than-ever world. It’s hard most days to lift one’s sights above the gloomy prospects. It makes me think of this photo. It was taken at a children’s playground where underground misters emit a continuous flow of fog. It’s an ingenious form of play, and the kids can’t get enough of it. W ..read more
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A tiny weightless thing
Karen Maezen Miller Blog
by Karen Maezen Miller
11M ago
Many years ago, when my life seemed to take a radical and inexplicable turn, people would sometimes ask how I decided to make that happen. The truth is, I didn’t make anything happen except in the smallest ways. I didn’t decide to downsize, for instance, although it looked that way. I didn’t become a minimalist, although my needs diminished. I didn’t decide to pursue a spiritual path, I just put one foot in front of the other. I didn’t resist, reject, or refuse anything, I simply made different choices. They are the kind of choices we are presented with all the time. Instead of more I cho ..read more
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Instructions to the gardener
Karen Maezen Miller Blog
by Karen Maezen Miller
11M ago
You should entreat trees and rocks to preach the Dharma, and you should ask rice fields and gardens for the truth. Ask pillars for the Dharma, and learn from hedges and walls. In earth, stones, sand, and pebbles, there is to be found the extremely inconceivable mind which moves the sincere heart. — Dogen More than 800 years ago, Dogen Zenji, the founder of the Soto school of Zen, was struggling to establish an authentic monastic practice in Japan. He had attracted his first students to a small temple where they lived communally, sharing responsibilities. When he was a young monk, he thought t ..read more
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Trees preach the dharma
Karen Maezen Miller Blog
by Karen Maezen Miller
11M ago
You should entreat trees and rocks to preach the Dharma, and you should ask rice fields and gardens for the truth. Ask pillars for the Dharma, and learn from hedges and walls. In earth, stones, sand, and pebbles, there is to be found the extremely inconceivable mind which moves the sincere heart. — Dogen Zenji June 22-25, 2023 The Pines Retreat A weekend of Zen meditation on a 60-acre wooded estate located one hour southeast of Toledo. Experience the healing presence of sitting in silence or walking in meditation, chanting, Dharma talks and private encounters with a teacher. Our Lady of the P ..read more
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