Everywhere

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A cold day in spring,
warm memories of you.
The tulips pale, the sky so blue.

The wind is lifting
up my hair as I
rush in the room.
I see you there one moment
as you used to be, then boom!

It’s only me,
and I feel free
to say this to the air.
I love you then and love
you now and see you
everywhere.

Vicki Woodyard

Vicki Woodyard

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No Holds Barred

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This is my no-holds barred essay that only I can write. I say that for a reason. I am the only one that knows me. Knows my unique way to responding to life. And I know it so well that I am ready to turn it in for the Christ Consciousness. It has been there all along just waiting for me to surrender. And I can only do it one moment at a time.

Because I have been studying my own consciousness for so long, I know when the subtlest changes take place. I know how dense I am and how likely I am to protect myself when I should be tearing down the walls.

Here’s the deal. When I first began to write, I bled all over the internet. Freely and to good effect. People were glad to feel their own reactions to my words. Well, there was one area where it did not go over well and that was in non-duality. People were so anxious to escape their stories. And yet when a story is unfolding, it cannot be ignored.

My child had died. I had a good twenty years to heal and then my husband began to die in the same way that she had. And I was out of gas. All I could do was push myself to keep on keeping on. Now I see how brave I was called on to be. To take my dog to be put down while a dying spouse looked sadly out the window. To celebrate Christmas two days after we buried my husband. On and on.

This is the tenth year of his passing and I can finally say I am doing fine. Or “almost doing fine,” as I said in a recent poem. I can never be sure of anything again.

I just read something that Jeff Foster wrote about dying. Jeff and I understand death very well. It is perhaps the greatest teacher. It asks us to die to ourselves. On some level that has happened to me. I know that my own physical death will happen when it happens and I will have no control over it.

In the meantime I live a simple quiet life. I have found my group of friends at long last. I love them. They play music and chant the names of God. I never grow tired of that.

Vicki Woodyard

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It could be angels….

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..the stars they write their story, the moon, the moon forgets to shine. The answer is the only question and I repeat it till I die

The trees so green,
an ancient scene.
It could be Paris
in the spring.

My heart abloom
in my small room.
It could be angels
on the wing.

The stars, the moon,
it ends so soon.
The seed in bloom,
the petals die.

The master speaks
and I grow weak.
His tone so solemn
in its pace.
I never let you look on me
because we share
a single face.

I die in love,
I fall above.
The moon and stars
forget to shine.
I kneel in peace.
The questions cease.
The trees are answering
with a sigh.

No matter now,
I turn and bow,
It all comes down to
I and thou.

Vicki Woodyard

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Coming to Peace

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I will always remember the day I got a healing from Theo, a man of Peru. I fully expected to see him again this month. But Agata, the woman who brought him here, died on February 1 of this year. It was a hasty death from stomach cancer and everyone was deeply sorrowful when she left. Just 47, she had the disposition of an angel.

Now spring is unfurling itself as it always does. I am contemplating a move, but if it happens, it will take a while. Restless, I sail about in my house wondering what to throw overboard. There are a few things I know I will keep.

One is the flat white stone that fits the palm of my hand, the one I picked up from Agata’s front porch when I saw her for the last time.

Sometimes the treasure is so powerful that it is enough in and of itself. It carries a message from the higher worlds that can never be decoded by the mind. It begs to be appreciated for its simplicity and mystery. Ultimately that is what we are made of.

Everything complex unravels at some point if we are lucky. Everything is seen for what it is, a delaying tactic to put our sight where it belongs, on that which cannot be seen or used by the ego.

Love is what we are made of and for. So hard to remember this in our state of worldly sleep. We must trade the worthless trash we have accumulated over a lifetime for the pearl of great price.

Only in that way will we ever come to peace.

Vicki Woodyard

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Happy Spring

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I had a restless night. My heart was racing like crazy and my dreams reflected it. I was trying to walk home and got lost in the neighborhood. I stopped and asked if I could borrow someone’s phone. She gave me an old-fashioned contraption that I didn’t know how to work. And I tried to use a phone number that began with letters. I gave up and begin trying to get home all over again.

This morning when I got on the scales I had gained over three pounds! Undoubtedly the new restaurant I had lunch in overdid the sodium in everything. I couldn’t have gotten a ring on my finger if I tried. So today is a low-salt, low-calorie day for me.

It’s gonna be hot so I will probably try to work at cleaning up the garage a bit. I have several bags and boxes of donations that will be picked up on Tuesday. This whole business of moving freaks me out big-time. It may or may not happen. Right now the male cardinal is saying “Chirp, chirp, chirp” in an in-your-face kind of way. He is owning it, folks. He is owning it. Why can’t we be more like that?

The spring greenery is shocking the dull earth into awakening. The weeds have already overtaken what used to be a sedate bed of pine straw with some Lenten Roses tucked in. Now it is shouting in all sorts of weedy language. To bend over and pull a few handfuls out is to be mocked by the sheer acreage of it. I never get the job done. At some point I will cave in and hire someone to bring in tons of fresh pine straw to cover the weeds up. For now they will be tolerated.

Frankly, it is one step forward and two steps back. Spring invites, excites and then makes you too pooped to pop. The sky is not uncertain about anything. It doesn’t get tired of emptiness. It isn’t afraid of awareness and what it might do. Oh, don’t tell me you don’t get spooked by the very idea of awakening to what is. It’s not all beer and skittles, for sure. I have known it to be constipation, diarrhea, vomiting and screaming. And that before we left the station. Oh, Vicki, can’t you ever write something without going all dramatic? Ha ha ha ha ha.

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A Man of God

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It’s hard to know where my friend Peter was coming from. I knew where I was, right in the middle of the maelstrom of my husband’s cancer. I was storm-tossed and hell-bent on doing whatever it took to keep him going. I won’t say “to keep him alive,” because we didn’t have that luxury. But I had to call it something. Otherwise, why get up in the morning?

Peter also knew that his life had a cap on it. But it didn’t seem to bother him. The vibe he generated via email was pure peace. There was also a hearty dose of laughter. Since I never knew him before his accident, I had nothing to compare him against. I knew from the get-go that he was secretive. I wasn’t sure why, but there it was. No last name, no address. But he was happy to send me a few photos, saying that he was “a handsome man, a manly man.” I could feel the twinkle in his eye as he painstakingly typed those words.

He shared with me that his wife was taking flying lessons and that made him happy. Perhaps he felt that she, like the robins, needed something to bear her aloft into freedom. And it gave him comfort, I am sure, to see her take time for herself. She had a job but I don’t know what it was. That left him alone a good part of the time. This was spent outdoors when at all possible. We can picture him talking to “the cat pack” as he adventured around his yard.

One thing was clear. He was brilliant. You just knew it by the simplicity of his words. It takes a good mind to transcend itself. And he pulled it off. He managed to nail the essence of life by living it.

He had no patience for doctors or spiritual teachers, on the whole. He felt that when you were facing death, a discussion about advaita was worth than useless. I agreed, since I was facing the monster of approaching death myself. Bob, pale as a ghost, stood silently by while I pounded words into essays and posted them on our website. I was learning that if I had nothing else, I had words. Words that hit people in the gut and bypassed the brain. Words that made them cry. But often they angered people that wanted their spirituality served sunny-side up. For me, that was impossible.

I had been handed a pair of hands that served as pruning shears for the uselessness of false optimism. I hope that the growth coming from the old stems would prove greener than green. I had nothing else. And Peter understood me. He held my hand and spoke of his delight in each day he survived. He was in pain but not in denial. In dire straits financially but not downtrodden. He was, quite simply, a man of God.

Vicki Woodyard

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Closure Is Ongoing

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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

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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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