Review of “You Want It Darker” by Leonard Cohen

I got Leonard Cohen’s “You Want It Darker” CD this afternoon. I put it on and lay down to listen. Before the first track ended, hot tears were sliding down my eyes and onto the pillow. How could it be otherwise? This is a funereal CD, indeed dark but never bitter. Dark but transcendent, dark but honest and oh, so fine.

We need to engage the end with this kind of comforting courage, for it is indeed hard “to leave the table.” Still thinking we can win, we keep giving it another spin. No such luck, only the grace of surrender and acceptance.

Leonard is in charge of a great talent and he wields it darkly in this, and possibly his last, CD. And it is reasonable to cry when listening to it. Reasonable to love him both young and old. For he has given us a fine record of him from his youth to his old age.
Never satisfied with anything but the best, he prompts us to listen to what is true and what can be left on the table. Only love knows how to make this choice….

Vicki Woodyard

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Who Knew?

Dear Friends,

How long has it been since you have gotten a letter? Letters have gone the way of the dinosaur. When I was a child, the postman still delivered letters to our door in a brown leather pouch. Everyone knew his name and he was a trusted friend. I even remember my grandmother’s icebox and watching the iceman deliver a block of ice for it. When I was very small, I opened her icebox and took out a stick of margarine and took a healthy bite of it. Was I surprised!

Then we moved to our first house (we had been living with my grandparents). The war was over and my father bought his first car, a black Studebaker. Polio hit and the neighbor across the street ended up in an iron lung. It was a frightening time.

But I experienced life as all children do, in essence. I watched my grandfather water the flowers. I smelled the earth and tasted water from the hose. I delighted in watching snapdragons release their tiny black seeds as I popped them open. I stepped in chicken droppings as my cousin and I played in the backyard. We bathed in a tin tub sans clothing and though it was heaven.

Now people don’t even email much. The postman drives a jeep and waves hello, but I don’t know him. In face, since living life as a spiritual student, I can say I don’t even know myself. I remain a mystery.

Why am I writing this? Because it is what I do and who I am. I am open to typing words that might be of use to someone else. Someone who is beginning to know that they don’t know. Someone who measures life in a different way than they did as a child and would like to regain their essence life.

This is a slow and unremitting task, forged by the fires of suffering. But not mechanical suffering. Conscious suffering, the kind that Jesus went through on the cross. We must die to our ideas about life because they cause us so much pain. We must bend low to rise high. I don’t know anything more important than that to do. But there is a fly in the ointment. We of our own selves can do nothing. Waking up is an act of waiting. Who knew?


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Laughter is a gift….

We all have every human emotion inside of us, and that makes for both tears and laughter. I get “the funny gene” from my father and have passed it down to my son, who has sold material to David Letterman. Humor can’t be explained; it has to be experienced. And dark humor arises in the dark night of the soul. We have all had times when we laughed really hard, only to find ourselves suddenly sobbing.

The balancing act we humans do is intricate and unplanned. The best moments in life are never planned; they are gifts from God. And a belly laugh is a great gift if you ask me.

Yesterday found me on the library steps waiting for it to open. A young woman joined me there and I made bold to open a conversation about spirituality. She ended up crying and asked if we could pray and we did. Starr Daily wrote about entering a church sanctuary and seeing only one homeless man in there. So he asked the homeless man if he would lay his hands on his head and pray for him. And he did. And then Starr Daily did the same thing for him. Never pass up an opportunity to bless someone. It opens a great door of humility and grace.

Likewise, never pass up an opportunity to share laughter with your fellow man or woman. We need each other in our honesty and our brokenness. No one is whole unless they are humble. As some sage said, “Be humble and you shall remain entire.”

So that’s it for this note. I had a beautiful day. Bought some shoes, took myself to lunch, took a walk and made some fabulous Mexican soup. Tonight will find me watching one of my favorite shows, Dateline Mystery. Go figure….


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Finding Balance

My inspiration these days comes from a shaman, Theo Paredes. I only spend an hour with him twice a year, but oh, what changes have happened to me on the physical and emotional levels. In between visits, I do not communicate with him in any tangible way; however, the intangible benefits are huge.

Once the heart is open, outer contact isn’t necessary. I feel that the silence is richer and deeper than ever before. At our last session, he invited me to visit him in Peru; I doubt I will go, but it was a lovely gesture on his part. The physical trials of such a journey would be immense for me; I am simply happier at home.

My life, which used to be filled with sorrow, so much so that it always tipped the emotional scales downward, is now much more peaceful and accepting of what is. The simple things fulfill me. My weekly trip to the grocery, library visits, lunches out, daily walks, Tai Chi, watching TV at night. Nothing out of the ordinary calls to me.

All of the hundreds of books pored over have now yielded up their fruit and I keep paring down to fewer and fewer on my shelves. I still read, but a lot of the books are novels these days.

My relationship with my son is now good and I am not easy to live with, just ask him. He chides me for making impulsive decisions and then regretting them. He is a Libra and likes to weigh things in the balance. I turn to him more and more often for advice and help. The roles are changing. I have such a hard head.

On the other hand, I help him by softening my approach, being a solid presence in his life, taking good care of myself so he doesn’t have to worry about me so much.

Life is good these days for this spiritual warrior. Last night I took a walk and saw a robin in someone’s yard. I stopped stock still and looked him in the eye. He looked back and we both stayed there for a minute or two. I thought of Peter and how robins were a resource for him and how he was one for me. A life in balance when nothing is going right was what he taught me. That inner balance that the outer world cannot destroy.

Vicki Woodyard

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Cosmic Emptiness

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Digging Deep

I have been digging deep for many years now. Remember when you were a child you thought if you dug deep enough, you could dig all the way to China? Of course that never happened, did it? But some of us must dig deep into our consciousness in search of light.

Some of you carry incredible burdens, even though Christ says “My burden is easy and my yoke is light.” We wonder what that means when we are sweating blood and nursing a broken heart. We truly yearn to die to ourselves, to turn the load over to Him, but how?

That “how” isn’t answered; it can’t be. Why? Because we are asking from the mental level, and that does no good at all. The mind is a machine designed to work as such. And machines cannot surrender.

So how does surrender happen? How do we access a deeper level than the mind? That is what we wrestle with. And we lose every time. I speak from personal experience. My good intentions, my deep desires, are not enough to lift the burden I insist on carrying.

So why do I continue to write? I do not have a personal answer to this. It just seems the dharmic thing for me to do. If I don’t write, I am not as fulfilled. So I keep on keeping on. At times one of you will say I helped you, that I mirrored your condition for you.

If you keep the question of how to surrender alive, eventually something will yield. Keep at it like a Japanese koan. How does surrender happen? How do I get myself out of the way?

For the true way is the Christ Consciousness. “I am the way, the truth and the life.” And that is found within your own heart.

I know this is a thorny issue. How can it be otherwise? For the opposites must be brought together, meeting in a river of light. When that happens, your burden floats away from you, carried, not by you, but by the great mystery of surrender. Your “how” floats away with it.

You can do nothing about your own life. That is the divine design, in place long before you were. Trust it. Cherish it. Question it. Rebel against it. God doesn’t care. He only wants one thing from you. The one thing you do not have to give. Figure out what it is and rejoice.

Vicki Woodyard

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Drinking While You Pour

I write less and less lately. Perhaps this is temporary—who knows? Having been pouring for so long, without stopping to replenish myself, I recall the words of my friend Phil. “Learn to drink while you pour,” he said.

My heart has come home so quietly that my ego hardly noticed. It moved the ego’s things out of the cupboard and installed itself unobtrusively.

Now I face the great emptiness, which, of course, is fullness.

Challenges still arise, but somehow I am better suited to handle them.

This fall is showing me its bounty. Cracked acorns in the street when I walk around the block. Dogwood berries, maple leaves, the sounds of a roof being put on a house across the creek.

Over and over again I move into life without great grief. Did I really finish with it? It would seem that only remnants remain.

What matters now is the realization that love is the only answer to any question I might have.

The transience of life is stinging at times, the knowledge that the human body is a temporary container and will not hold up forever.

All I can do is be. No energy is required for that. On the contrary, conscious being begets new energy, the transformation of the old.

I am stopping to smell the roses; the thorns have done their work. Hallelujah.

Vicki Woodyard

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

A Day to Remember

Today Rob and I went on a tour of the Atlanta Beltline. It was led by George Skaroulis and sponsored by Cancer Wellness at Piedmont Hospital. Eight of us met George on a day with a sky begging the expression, “October’s bright blue weather.” We met at Piedmont Park and walked a couple of miles, taking in some of the more interesting sights along the route.

I will post a few of the photos when I get them. George is doing photos of us there. He is a wonderful guide; I hadn’t met him before. He is also a pianist, photographer and former restaurateur. He and Rob were the only two guys in the group.

I walked along, catching up on news with my friend Lynn Stowe, who is a great photographer in her own right. At lunch, George was telling Lynn about being booked to play piano at an exclusive country club. He wore jeans and a shirt without a tie. He was called aside by a staff member and asked to put on a coat, which was required at the club. Then they called him on not having a tie. I don’t believe he will play there again, by his own choice!

After the tour ended, we were treated to lunch at MetroFresh, a wonderful restaurant that frequently delivers meals to Cancer Wellness programs. I had chicken and a salad with umpteen kinds of fresh vegetables.

Then Rob and I went to The Krog Market, where we had coffee, cookies and ice cream. And we weren’t even hungry. It was just that kind of a day where anything is possible, even indulging oneself to the max.

At lunch I said how wonderful it is to be a part of this cancer community, where the subject almost never comes up. We are too busy being healthy in our attitudes and spirit. I was the oldest in the group today by a long shot, but heck, I kept up like nobody’s business. It has inspired me to walk a bit more than I have been lately.


Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The Leap

Feeling into silence and waiting for the words to come….

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What Is Real

So here is where I am. I have a damned good bullshit detector and I plan to keep using it. On myself first of all. I still care what you think of me and my writing and to that I say, “Oh, grow up!” I just stole a line from the late Joan Rivers, for whom I sold oneliners for many years. She never paid me what they were worth, another case of me writing for glory instead of for myself.

As for my precious books, I now see the bullshit of trying to sell them to a public that has no interest in them. Even on Facebook, my so-called Friends pass me up in favor of the popularizers. I ain’t no popularizer. Never have been. Never will be.

This fourth book may never see the light of day. Too good to market to the multitude. Too full of hard-won truth without any buzz words or quick fixes.

I won’t be going away. How could I? That in me that was never born can never die or quit writing quite yet.

I asked a trusted friend to read the ms. and he assured me it probably won’t sell, being too full of truth. And he confirmed something I have suppressed for a long time. I need to move on, to accept the love and devotion of a son I have such great fears about losing. I act as if I have already lost him. He, who is now protective of me to an amazing degree. The tears fall in gratitude to him for putting up with me.

You see, I have a certain power I was born with and can’t get rid of. He once told me it was difficult to live within it. And I am so sorry that I have misused it, misunderstood it and given it away to people who can never love me for who I am.

This Vicki in her mid-seventies, is deserving of the whole kingdom of heaven. She, who was broken for a reason, now heals by having enough humility to cry out to God the whole day long. And feel she is being heard. No one else matters but this God within me who manages the God without me as well. And the two shall become one.

I understand I have online enemies. Hallelujah for that. Those that misunderstand are welcome to continue in that vein. I also have online supporters who feel I bring a certain energy to them that is always welcome. I think it is called honesty.

So this is where I am. Not a bad place to be. In humility and gratitude for what is real.

Vicki Woodyard

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments