Closure Is Ongoing

Rose and rust
I just watched a documentary called “Closure.” It’s about a black woman looking for her birth mother after being raised by a white couple. I highly recommend it. And it struck a deep chord. There is a great ongoing discussion called “advaita.” They wrestle with the question “Who am I?” And it gets rather bloodless and impersonal.

We all feel out of place in this world for one reason or another. We disguise our wounds well. We hide out, do drugs, become comfortable behind walls. We dress well, become self-educated and know how to snow people. All the while wondering “Who am I?”

Everyone has a story that is unfolding and ongoing. I started out life among a family and felt I belonged. But when I married everything changed. I moved to another state. Had a son and daughter and the daughter died. Three left in the family. The fourth one, the dead child, did not live in our American culture. We didn’t keep her alive.

So tonight I am watching this documentary about the black child searching for her birth family. It is a joyful story that ends well. But what about me? I have given up on the “Who am I?” question that advaitans love to kick around. I know I am a child of God. But something has been missing.

Through my writing I have learned to tell my story and have helped a few other people reunite with their missing roles. As mothers, usually. Mothers who have buried children. Mothers that feel different. We all feel different and at time we feel unheard, unwanted and unseen.

All I can say is that until we hear all these voices of abandonment we cannot heal them. So I say that my little girl, whose name was Laurie, has been buried under a mountain of denial. But I am coming home to life and love. Thanks to a few good people, I am learning that I can go on, can be loved and accepted. That is a hard thing for me to understand. I have felt so alone for so long. And everyone needs a soft place to fall.

These paragraphs are saying that we all have a story, a feeling of a need to reunite with ourselves. To know who we are and how much we are loved. I have to take the first step. I have to reach out to people. Try to be real. Try to be present with others who are also denying their struggles.

It all ends and begins with love. It’s the middle parts that are the most difficult. Let us bless the middle parts, the bloody messy battles that we fought and lost. The reunions that have yet to take place before we end our journey here on earth. We never know who will leave the play next.

Thank you all for reading what I write. I have put almost 14 years in online. I think I am getting better, both as a writer and as a human being. At least I hope so.

Vicki Woodyard

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The Intention To Fly

We danced that night in a shower of light.
Winging, alate, we touched the borders
of possibility then flew across.

Mercury-like we landed atop a mountain
of bliss, flinging shards of suffering into
the wind.

Back home we were burnished with
a patina of patience that had not been
there before.

Who knows what beauty arises when
the intention is greater than the sum
of its parts?

Vicki Woodyard

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The Arms of Love: A Very Special Kirtan

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Last night I was held by the arms of love. So many hearts breathing together, led by Phil McWilliams. During the course of the evening, he and his fellow musicians led us through a joyful experience of what it means to be a family. Family, that is a powerful word. I never thought I would find my group of chosen friends. And last night they were all there in a mosaic of music.

We began with breath work led by Phil. It was awesome to hear a roomful of people breathing together in rhythm. I confess to dropping out sooner than most. I hadn’t done this before and my mouth became dry. I popped in a cough drop and just settled in to listen. What I heard was love.

The music coming out of this group, The BhaktaBand, is beyond words. They are just where I am these days. Their business is blowing the mind. By grace and an evening of disciplined surrendered work, they shook the old rafters of “The E Church” in Candler Park. The percussionists, Scott and Larry, delivered the goods. Scott seemed to be everywhere, bells on his ankles and drum in hand. He walked among us like some strange and wonderful visitor, stopping to give people individual doses of energy. Wow. I loved it.

After it was over, and the church was still in one piece, we all visited and talked about the power of the evening. “I am gonna have a hard time writing about this, because it was beyond words.” Heads nodded in agreement. It was all about love and the music brought the walls between people down. It brought down the walls in my own heart. It seemed to be a proclamation of joy.

This group of musicians exude such joy. They do it for love. They do it for community. And I, for one, deeply appreciate each one of them. They are so modest about what they do. I have been so long in a strange land that when I found this family, I knew them for what they were, a way out of isolation and a way into the heart. We all need that.

Vicki Woodyard

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What Falls Is What Rises

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I can’t summon up anything to write about. It feels so very strange to say that. I am sitting here trying to process what has happened. Six months ago I received a healing from a holy man. On February 1, the woman who introduced me to him died. Now I feel such a stillness and am restless at the same time. For I do not know what to do with the quietude I feel.

The leaf fell from the tree. That is one supposition. And I am not the leaf but the tree. Could that be true? Does it matter?

The old machinery is still operating in the basement. It will go on until I die. That is the nature of things.

Between these lines I live my life. So quiet. A bowl of soup. A piece of cheese bread. A slice of pie.

Tomorrow I am going to kirtan and it will be a beautiful thing. I am grateful for this time of awe.

Vicki Woodyard

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The Stillness Before Snow

eagle in full wing span
The stillness before snow
lays out the mind on a bed
of white silk.

The wings of what will be
shadow what already is.

In waiting we fill the heart
with wonder.

Vicki Woodyard

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A Smooth White Stone

I had been waiting for March. Agata had told me that her teacher of shamanism, Theo Paredes, would be returning to Atlanta for a visit. Six months ago I had gone to her house to receive a healing treatment from him. I wrote about it at the time.

The last time I saw her, she was waving and smiling as my son and I left her house afterwards. She had a collection of smooth river stones on her front porch. I asked her if I could have one and she smiled and said that I could. Bending over to get a closer look, I chose an unremarkable small white one. It fit nicely into the palm of my hand.

“You can put your memories of this day into it,” she said. And we went to a barbecue restaurant that she recommended. As we sat there in the hot August weather, I smiled at Rob and said something like, “A visit with a shaman and a barbecue sandwich. What could be better?’

The first time I met Agata was in 2010. We were both in attendance at a poetry session that John Fox was giving at The Wellness Community. I had my new book, Life With A Hole In It, with me. When I found out that she was a shaman, I asked her to bless it. She graciously took it into her hands, closed her eyes and said a silent blessing on it.

A year or so later, I saw her again when John Fox presented at Cancer Wellness at Piedmont Hospital. Agata came and I got to hear her read a beautiful poem that she had written. I found out she knew John from his visits to The Paideia School in Decatur, where her sons went.

In 2014 my third book, Bigger Than The Sky, came out. Agata had invited people to have healing sessions with her Peruvian teacher and I made an appointment with great eagerness. My son drove me to her home and I went up the long flight of stairs to the room where he was seeing people.

I brought a single sheet of paper with an image of the book cover on it. This time I asked Theo to bless it, which he gladly did. The treatment he gave me was remarkable. Words can never do it justice. It was only after a few weeks had passed that I realized he had taken a large portion of my grief from me. I so wanted to see him again.

Last month I emailed Agata to see if she knew when he would be returning. I never heard from her. It would cross my mind that she hadn’t answered me and I would wait expectantly. Then yesterday I went to her Facebook Page and read that she had died on Feb. 1.

The smooth stone is all I have left of her. That and her glorious radiant spirit. Sometimes we are reminded that there are no guarantees in this world but eternal love. You take it where you find it and if you are lucky, you learn to give it away, as Agata did so generously. Who knows when the earthly journey will end for any of us? I bid her spirit both hello and goodbye. Love travels in infinite circles.

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Have you noticed?….

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Have you noticed?

That your fear of saying what you want or need feels too scary to voice?

That the very saying of it arouses great fear in you?

And for good reason.

Contemplate how people mechanically argue against what you want or need.
(This is simply how the law of opposites operates in this world.)

That the world is a mechanical force that can only be overcome by your own conscious presence in it without resistance?

That whenever a celebrity shares their generosity it is suspect? And that you dare not say it, but that you have “heard” that the poor we will always have with us. And that if they were really good, they wouldn’t be assuaging their guilt with massive donations of money. And that it doesn’t help?

That living your own life and being true to yourself requires giving up yourself? Because we are not talking about the ego but the surrender of ego.

That being online is addictive and little truth seeps through the screen. Ponder why this is so, using “the lowest common denominator” as part of your meditation.

That the most important thing in the world happens when you do one true thing. And that you can’t do it until you are ready to face the consequences it will bring.

Vicki Woodyard

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Let Yourself Alone

In the natural world, things know what they are about. Trees are about leafing. Water is about flowing. Fire is about burning. The soul is about being itself just as it is. With no interpretation.

Can you simply be yourself, letting your gifts leaf out upon your branches? Perhaps the gift of appreciation or of spreading joy wherever you go.

The natural world of the psyche is love in all of its forms. Yes, there is the sun that gives life to us all. But don’t forget the moon, that waxing and waning of emotions within us all.

Moon children are quiet and reflective, silvery and buoyant. They know how to float. I am not speaking of astrological signs but of soul movements shimmering like stars on the water. If you try and catch them in your net, you will come up empty. And yet they are there.

Let yourself alone. That is a tall order. To let yourself be in each cycle of nature and let it act on you as it will. Winter is a time for us all to go within and experience death and rebirth. This takes a commitment to being yourself, to come as you are.

Don’t worry about the impression you are making on others. They are caught up in their own inner journeys. Every now and then two souls will strike sparks, make a fire for us all, and we are the richer for it.

Occasionally a wandering gypsy will set up camp in your driveway and show you how to revel in your wildness.

And in the course of time, people will gather around your bed to pray you home.

A bright cardinal drops into a leafless winter tree. Gassho.

Vicki Woodyard

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The Enlightenment Continuum

girl with net
Where am I on the enlightenment continuum? It doesn’t matter. There are greater and lesser beings all pushing me to the edge of my body. My body is round like the earth. It is the earth. My body overflows it banks. It freezes over and thaws out. The spring melt can grow crops and drown people in its onrushing current. Where am I on the life-death continuum? Does it matter?

Today is a 3-day weekend. We are celebrating President’s Day; in other words, everything is on sale. Am I on sale? Is this earth body I inhabit for sale? It has been bought and sold and is forever shifting in value. The price of gold and gas goes up and down.

Where am I when it comes to love? Does it matter? I have lost and found it countless times. Been a stranger on this earth and yet have loved a few souls desperately. The idea is that once we succumb to definitions of who we are, we are frozen in time. Fossilized as characters in a stage play that ends. That can be rated, applauded, booed and hissed. Does that matter?

Ironically, our lives are not our own. Have never been our own. They belong to love. They originate in love And yet we have polluted the love by throwing toxic matter into it. The sea is littered with Hallmark cards. The walls have been spray-painted with graffiti. Everyone wants their 15 minutes of fame and they are getting it. Going viral is something to be greatly desired. The King of Kings sits on the throne alone.

Why bother with questioning things? Why wash off the graffiti? Why try to find the goodness within when the evil has such a hold on us?

Spirituality has been freeze-dried, over-processed and become susceptible to blight. It is dying in the fields of the heart and no one has time to see this clearly enough to solve the great riddle. If you are asking what the great riddle is, you haven’t even opened one eye yet.

The riddle is you. The solution is you. The promise is you. Stop dead in your tracks and see what you love. If it is love itself, you are heading in the right direction. For love is the only guide and the only flail you will ever need. Yes, as Gibran says, love will crucify you. And it is about time.

Vicki Woodyard
Author, Bigger Than The Sky: A Radical Awakening

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bird on blue background

M. L. writes: What concerns me is how we don’t love in the ordinary days, without illness, without a catastrophe. We often don’t come to love, don’t see it, don’t pursue until something terrible happens. How do we bring love into the ordinary, beautiful sunny day? We let them slip away…….

Vicki Woodyard I know…this is the human predicament.

Since Bob’s death, ten years ago now, I have pondered that question deeply. It is human nature to lose oneself in thought. We can’t seem to escape it. Hence the teachings of Jesus to wake up, to come out from among them, to let the dead bury the dead. He is, of course, speaking in a psychological language rather than a literal one.

I love Bob more deeply now than when he slept in the same bed with me. That is an inescapable fact. The tears have fallen, have flooded the old bed, which I never liked. It was one of those expensive astronaut foam ones that he felt helped him sleep. To me it was like sleeping on a slab of granite. But it took me five years before I bought a new bed with a mattress of my own choosing. I love it. It suits me.

What I am learning slowly is that I come first. That if I continue to put myself second, the grace of God cannot reach me. And I am not speaking of my ego. I was angry at God and at Bob and myself all at once. How could God destroy our family a second time? How could Bob abandon me by dying? Why couldn’t I be “nice” to everyone while I was undergoing the fires of hell?
There never was an answer.

But I will say this. I try not to put up with bad vibes. I honor my introversion. I value anything that helps me to heal. I have learned to surround myself with white light every single day.

I don’t think we can bring love into our daily lives. We must wait on it to come to us from the Source itself. Everything comes down to us from the heights. Being receptive to grace is one way. Honoring one’s own soul is another.

We are far from being able to be as God. We can only aspire and in that aspiration we learn to breathe a higher and finer air.

Vicki Woodyard

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