Pure Presence

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Peter was pure presence. In the pages of Bigger Than The Sky, his words point to the sudden descent of grace after he took his terrible fall—the fall being a series of strokes that occurred after an accident.

As it said on his website, “In intense deep lasting illness, there is no time for beliefs, mantras, systems, paths, or for that matter, anything else. There is only the realization of helplessness, and for the very very lucky, an abandonment of everything.”

So in that abandonment, Peter became furniture for his cats and a companion of God, whom he insisted on calling She. I liked that, for surrender is a feminine principle and the core of Tao, the way of returning to our original nature.

His wit was vitally intact. His “ho ho’s” rang through every email he ever sent to me. Although my husband was a dying man, so was Peter. How was I to weave this into my path without breaking the thread of grace?

Peter’s way was to listen intently to me as I wrote my sorrow into something that could sustain me. Love was a given, but often I ran straight into the wall of grief. Blinded by tears, I turned again and again to my friend for connection. “Love never faileth.”

He has been gone for a while now. He reaches down to jog me when I fall asleep. He would laugh when I complain about a group of robins pooping on my car every single day. The rain washes it away and then they start all over again. “The birds they poop at the break of day….start again, I hear them say.” And so the cosmic joke falls from the sky just as rain.

When all is said and done, love is the trickiest thing we shall ever encounter. It is able to poke its nose into sorrow and turn it into fine wine. It is able to make a man like Peter live forever. It is able to let us know that all manner of things shall be exceedingly well, as Juliana of Norwich said.

Aloha, Peter. You grace the pages of my book with your powerful presence. Who could ask for anything more?

Vicki Woodyard
Author of Bigger Than The Sky

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Vernon Howard Roots

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The only thing I can do is return to my Vernon Howard roots. They hold me fast to the ground so that I can learn to fly.

Try as I might, I cannot get too far away from the teachings of Vernon Howard, that maverick of a mystic that herded his true students in a hard and unrelenting fashion. To study with him was to enter the bliss of being burdened with yourself consciously. For we are fools that do not know that we are fools.

Lately I have been watching myself want my new book to be a success. On one level it is, because I love it so much. But in the world, it has made scarcely a ripple. So I must give it over to God and walk on.

I find that I want to walk back into Vernon’s classroom and all I have to do is pick up one of his books. They separate the wheat from the chaff in a remarkable way. I see exactly where he is going and if I choose to go along, I am renewed from top to bottom.

You see, we are passing ourselves off as counterfeit currency. We have no worth other than essence. And essence is free and undefined. It filters down through the sun to Mother Earth and touches whom it will. For everything is bought with a price. As Gurdjieff said, “Take what you want and pay for it.”

I cast off the skin of negativity in order to find that the beauty of the shedding is inevitable. I can relax so deeply that joy percolates furiously at the speed of light.

I am a mystic by nature. My silence is my birthright and those who feel it benefit from it. My words just get in the way. I also fall into self-pity and depression with regularity; that is not who I am. It is merely who I mistake myself for.

I don’t buy the school of awakening that lays claim to constant joy. I think everything comes and goes. Love would have us just keep walking through both sunshine and shadow. And my teacher had a sign over his door that said, “When the pain gets too bad, come back.” And so I do.

Vicki Woodyard
Author, Bigger Than The Sky

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The Universe Dropped In Today

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The universe and I always wear matching outfits. You think I’m kidding but I’m dead serious. I don’t know who sends the memo, but we all get it. Like if God gets up in the morning and feels like wearing pink, so do I. And if I want to go back to bed, so does He. It is truly an amazing life. And love is so obvious in this “one disguise fits all.” It is much, much better than match.com.

God is in love with His Creation and He has a fabulous sense of humor. He dresses up pigs in snouts and makes them say “Oink, oink.” He had to be laughing when He did that one. He lets people invent things, too. He must have laughed when the first joker sat on a mechanical bull. Or when the first fake snake jumped out of a can of peanuts.

Of course, I could talk about rainbows and puppies and stuff, but God has underlined the cutest stuff. (He also makes them poop all over people and cry a lot.) Balance is the order of the universe and no one is exempt from taking their share of pratfalls.

God has many imitators, almost as many as Elvis. They stand behind pulpits and on orange crates. They star in movies and do guest appearances on TV. The funny thing is that God hires these people because He can’t be everywhere at once. Sometimes God is in the Can. (I am tittering.)

God has made me a writer and He knows I like to get attention by saying things like that. He often uses me to put words together and post them to remind people that nothing ever doesn’t match. The universe is step by step by step with you. You can waddle like a duck or wear your panties on your head. The universe is doing it right along with you.

So why am I writing this essay? Because it is that magic time of day, between 3 and 4 p.m. Everyone is winding down their work day or their play day and I am just a diversionary tactic for you. If you look out the window, you will see God passing by or maybe He is in your house. If you don’t know whether He is or not, look in the mirror. He is wearing the same thing you are. Only you look better in it.

Love,
Vicki

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Squirrely

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Life is an ongoing conversation with the eternal, God speaking to Himself in all of us. Most of the time we do the talking and make Him listen. “So, God, I want my book to sell a lot of copies.” And God is silent. So I continue talking, but to myself. “You aren’t very good at self-promotion. What is WRONG with you!”

God is smiling through the leaves of the trees and feeding me peach oatmeal that I simply adore. Some religions feed idols but here in America we mostly feed ourselves and way too much, at that. This is just instant oatmeal but it tastes like daily manna.

Sometimes I ask God way too many questions and in a peevish tone. No wonder He ignores me, letting my house get so quiet I hear the squirrel feasting on a cedar board near the chimney. I yell at this squirrel, one of God’s crazier creatures. “Go away. Go AWAY!” For his cedar breakfast will cost me several hundred dollars worth of new boards and the price of a handyman to install and paint them. God is clearly aware of the deal He has made with us. We are on our own to settle matters like these.

While I am in a reflective vein, it seems to me that all of those images of the Virgin Mary that people discover in pancakes, dusty windshields, etc. are simply God making Selfies in a most creative way. He keeps His Original Face for private viewing only. As I type, the “l” on my keyboard is sticking. It’s always somethin’….”

Friction is inevitable when we live with an inscrutable God. “Where are you when I need You?” I am apt to ask him querulously. “Why is my “l” sticking? Why do we have to get older and yet strangely childlike?” I type “chidlike” as I manage to get one “l” to work.

Surrender is the only viable option. I must either get a new keyboard, fix the old one or learn to type without “l’s.” I think I will get a new keyboard. Surrender has never been a strong point with me.

But back to my new book, Bigger Than The Sky. I have cut it loose because frankly, that is the only option open. A dear friend advised me to do this, but I was not quite ready. I clung on to the flotsam and jetsam of my hopes and dreams. God has other plans for me. (I type other “pans.”) Yeah, God, I’m ready for the good stuff to go down. Holla! Oh, and Selah….

Love,
Vicki

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Behind the Curtain

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Is that you?
Or is it me?
Perhaps it’s something
indefinitely.

Was that them
or was it us?
In between don’t
make a fuss.

Old Zen masters
pop in place
where once I had
an original face.

I know nothing
less than you
and half a lie
is never true.

Climb up the ladder
down the slide
for in-between
one can’t abide.

Make no choice
for it is certain
there is no one
behind the curtain.

Vicki Woodyard

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So this is how it is….

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So this is how it is. I have been writing online since the early 2000s. That’s when it all came apart for me, for the second time. All of you know my story, more than likely. At this point I could write in my sleep. Last night Bob was in the dream. We were out in the British countryside somewhere and were with our children. Water was running everywhere, over paths as well as in the streams. It was beautiful. Only the children were strangers to me. That is how my life often feels, and so does yours. Like at night you became a different person altogether.

Usually in dreams I am trying to get home or I have just lost my purse. I am trying to call home but the phone doesn’t work or I can’t see the numbers or people won’t let me borrow theirs. I wake up realizing it was just a garden variety “lost in life” dream.

And on rare occasions, the spirit speaks to me. But it hasn’t in a very long time because I find myself in a rut. Not an inner one but an outer one. Not my essence but my personality. I should sell the house and find a more sociable place to live. Suburbia is isolating for a widow. But this is our home and once it is gone, I can’t get it back.

Things like that roam across the sub-flooring of my mind like they do in everyone’s. There is no rest for the weary. There is distraction but no true rest. And yet a part of me is frolicking in unknown realms where clear water is running abundantly. And I wake up thirsty for what used to be.

God help me, but I still miss being married; I always will. And yet I have done remarkably well. I see myself getting fuzzier around the edges, as if a stronger lens would help my mind’s eye. Sometimes I think I am still young (my house is dark). At other times I fear my life is being measured out in doses that may run out.

When I found out that Jeff Belyea had died suddenly, I was wracked with real grief. He was such a good friend to so many. All of us are hanging by a thread and yet we are running eternally through clear water. This is our human situation and a Friday night finds me growing nostalgic.

So much for the marriage vows,
till death do us part.
Death could no more part us
than it could part God and His Son.

That body of yours lay in the casket
your hands with the hairs still so
alive I could see them growing.
And yet this cord around my heart
is binding me tighter and tighter.

Writing the words is not singing
the music and the angels are
waiting for me to not only sing
but get up and dance.

The night is long and the musician
has only begun to run the scales.
Now the clear water is running
everywhere and no one is
afraid in this dream of forever.
Now it is time to wake up
from the dream so the angels
can take some time off.

Vicki Woodyard

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Slumgullion Friday

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“I had a missed call. It’s probably the all you can eat buffet calling to say, “Come back! We know you can eat just a little bit more.”
Jarod Kintz,

As I get older, I find that great gulps of life do me no good. Those days, hopefully, are behind me. When I go through the buffet line and everything looks appealing. So I sit down with my tray laden with strange gelatin salads, pale rolls, fish and chicken, a few vegetables to salve my conscience and then a large and luscious dessert. The latter always looks better than it tastes.

The gelatin salads are sort of like the “you are supposed to know a little bit about everything” reading that you do early on. From Confucius to confusion, on you go. There are colorful shreds of cabbage-like teachings that catch in your throat. A bit of Blavatsky, perhaps.

The pale rolls are the Sunday-School-like offerings from well-meaning but misguided teachers. You find their work in dusty used book shops, more than likely. You gamely choke them down because they were a bargain. And at this point, enlightenment is the goal.

The fish and chicken offer more substance, but often there is a dismal gravy on top that you have to push aside to get to the meat. These are getting closer to the truth but are still not something designed especially for your palate.

You look around the cafeteria. Everyone is just like you. A little disappointed that what they selected promised more than it delivered. But cafeteria eaters never return dishes to the kitchen. They understand that this is a generic offering they have purchased.

The dessert is often banana pudding with huge amounts of goo on top. You have already gotten full on the other courses, so you bravely eat a bite or two and then push back from the table.

Sometimes there may be a server with a hairnet and a ladle and a twinkle in her eye. She may tip you off to something. “The food you have in your own pantry probably tastes better than this.” Occasionally, this server takes the trouble to come to you in a dream. You wake up realizing that food for the soul has been offered.

This happened to me. I dreamt of going to the desert to find my food. It was served by a man who yelled at his eaters to be more discriminating about what they ate. He was there to fire the present staff and bring in a whole new crew. We were to eat what was put before us. We were told to line up and go quickly, taking what looked good and paying for the modest meal. Afterwards, we were told we had to wash dishes and do the shopping for the next meal. No one liked that idea.

Something else incredible happened. We found that we had been eating wax food; it wasn’t even real. Once we got rid of that, everything was delicious. Our pale faces got ruddier and our backs got stronger. This was a strange chef with a very strange staff.

I will stop here before you start asking questions and the chef discouraged that. He thought if you tasted the food, really tasted it, it would change your life.

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

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Slow Sips

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Slow sips from
expectant lips
foaming with
the tide’s demise.

Curvy dips
on the rose’s hips
are saying it will die.

Patience is the
curbing of the fire
to bank it with
severe desire.

A prayer of sorts
arises here
before it all
will disappear.

Vicki Woodyard

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Crossroads

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October 23, 2014

A curtain fell between us.
Maya wove her spell.
I felt the chasm open
as I fell into hell.

Sorrow fell like feathers
into my lonely head.
And I approached the
shuttle to weave the words
I said.

Nothing stands between us
but the river and its flow.
The strands of time are woven
as above and so below.

Green waters move along
as threads that weave
a love so fine
Afloat in love each hour
brings one note and it
is Thine.

I am at a crossroads. Bigger Than The Sky is out and seemingly, the future ahead is simply more of the same. A quiet life, the occasional kirtan, weekly Tai Chi and entirely too much time on my hands. Yet time is merely a measurement and one you will never be able to hold in your hands or put in your pocket for a rainy day. When I was writing oneliners, here is one I liked. “The plane was so crowded that every time we hit an air pocket, I put something in it.”

I just like the act of writing. It comes so easily to me. As I lay in bed this morning lazily, I pondered the fact that essence never changes. I am who I was as a child; so is everyone else. The persona is built up but persona never touches essence. It is our essence that is bigger than the sky. It is essence that carried my friend Peter through his accident and illness. It is essence that enables me to type these words fresh off the fingers, as it were.

Pondering is part of my essence. I have never understood the enthusiasm people have for engaging in activities. I don’t decorate for holidays or enjoy doing anything with my hands except strike the keys. I do admit to having a need for order in my world. Otherwise, I feel threatened by the chaos. I have Virgo rising, which makes me a neat freak. I would say it is impossible for me to appear messy. People would remark on it when I was small. Virgo explains it.

Dutiful is a word that might describe me as a personality, too. I dislike being late or running out of things in the pantry. This is personality forcing me into a certain mold. Joan Rivers: “My body is falling so fast, I sleep in a Jello mold.” (I didn’t write that; it just popped into my head.)

This quality made me a great caregiver, for I had no trouble covering all of the bases. But I also knew that it was a useless endeavor, for my essence knew the future. I had a dream right before Bob was diagnosed with his cancer. It showed us on different sides of a river. I was walking along picking up shells, quite happily doing my thing. Interpretation: I would have many years without him.

Nevertheless, it has been only recently that the grief has abated to any great extent. It happened when a shaman gave me a healing. After spending an hour with him, my deep grief had lifted suddenly to an amazing degree. He gave me a word of guidance: Be grateful. And I am. And I keep on writing like there is no tomorrow. If there was, I would have put it in my pocket.

Vicki Woodyard

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And the silence carries me home….

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I can honestly say that the further one goes, the less one knows. That is a blessing, for sure. The certainty of youth is so often misguided and cruel. The judgements fly, relationships are chaotic and the donkey is lured on by the carrot of society.

In that environment nothing can happen but more of the same. For years I was, as the old expression goes, “of two minds.” I was one thing at home and another when out in the world. We think no one will notice. Ha ha ha. Everyone notices and no one says anything because they are the same.

Had it not been for my teacher, Vernon Howard, this behavior would have gone unchanged. But to meet him was to meet one’s conscience. He was the Jiminy Cricket of the inner world. He had the innate capacity to hold up a mirror to every student who sought him out. I had to see myself as I actually was. Not the prettiest apple in the barrel, but one with a worm called Ego.

This worm was keeping me from seeing the light I carried. It’s only job was to mimic the light. And if you watch TV, especially Entertainment Tonight, you will see this is the job of show business. As Vernon told us, the showcase personality must be abandoned.

What happened was that I begin to study my fear up close and personal. I saw how terrified I was of people. I saw the deep fear of displeasing people. I saw how I behaved like every other animal in the human zoo. I was a predator disguised as a pleasant little puppy.

It was not easy being a student of such a teacher. But now, these many years later, his books remain the ones that unlock the door to freedom for me. Most readers are turned off by what he says. Only the few can hear the truth and understand its healing medicine.

Sometimes I forget it for months. I really do. I think I have made some improvements and can now deal with life better. No. I am life itself. There is no one there to deal with it. I am, essentially, the light. The same as everyone else. This is a sobering fact, one best faced in the company of likeminded people. They can help each other stay awake.

I am no longer in a community except for the one I have found recently. That is the kirtan community. Here, one transcends the ego by celebrating the Word within us all. It is an effortless entry into love. I used to be in the Work, as taught by Vernon Howard, Gurdjieff and Ouspensky. I still am. One cannot leave what one is. But now I am also in a bhakti community, which dovetails with what I used to study with my head. Now it is heart-centered and serene. I need people in my life. I need association with lovers of the Word. I need to hear the drums and the chanting.

Usually after a kirtan, I sleep like a baby. I wake in silence and that silence carries me back to the womb of the Word.

Selah.

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