UPDATE: Congratulations to Jean Murray, winner of the Homegrown contest! Look for more contests in the future.
Original post: Sometimes, a thing of beauty can be right in front of our eyes.
Zen Priest Karen Maezen Miller’s new book, “Paradise in Plain Sight: Lessons from a Zen Garden,” explores that idea.
The book, in which Miller reflects on her experience in reworking Southern California’s oldest private Japanese garden, was just released days ago.
Readers of Homegrown Iowan who would like to be one of the first to read Miller’s book can have that chance, for free. Just write a note at the end of this post and I will include your name in a drawing for the book.
Enter between today – Sunday, May, 18, and Memorial Day, on Monday, May 26, to be entered in the contest. I will draw one name on Memorial Day as the winner of Miller’s new book.
While house hunting in the summer of 1997, bestselling author and Zen priest Karen Maezen Miller stood with her husband in the backyard of an empty house. The yard was Southern California’s oldest private Japanese garden, an oasis of ponds and pines that had stood mostly intact for nearly a hundred years. While it needed a great deal of work, they knew in their bones the place could only be theirs and made an offer the very next day.
Flush with faith but light on know-how, they moved in and started working. In Paradise in Plain Sight: Lessons from a Zen Garden (New World Library, May 15, 2014), Miller uses her experience in that garden to help readers understand that the insight and contentment they are seeking “out there” actually reside right under their feet in their everyday lives.
“I began to garden. I got scratched, tired, and dirty. I broke my fingernails and ruined my shoes. I yanked out what I could have kept and put in more of what I didn’t need. I pouted and wept, cursing the enormity of the task. I was resentful and unappreciative,” writes Miller. “But when I ventured afield, sidelined by things that seemed much more entertaining or important, I always came back to this patch of patient earth. Time after time I realized that everything I want or need — the living truth of life, love, beauty, purpose, and peace — is taught to me right here, no farther away than the ground beneath my feet.”
Miller’s teachings speak directly to the anxious ills that far too often overwhelm. Her writing is pragmatic and personal, grounded in the simple truths of the natural world. Gently insistent, her voice conveys the intimacy of a face-to-face encounter, the living transmission of Zen.