The Great Sorrow

No one should minimize the great sorrow that living in this world entails sooner or later. You might be able to escape it at first if you are lucky, but some are initiated into it in the womb. I feel there has been too much made of happiness in the nondual teachings. As if the mind could arrange for the heart not to suffer if it just woke up. Ah, yes, nondualists get off on the phrase “waking up.” For them it is enough to say that they had an experience of being one with everything. I have been one with a lot of things that didn’t make me happy. The Medicine Room at St. Jude’s comes to mind. My little girl was a radiantly happy human being but not when she heard her name called to go there. For she would have to sit for hours with an I.V. drip of toxicity in her young veins. I, as her mother, was initiated into deep sorrow at St. Jude’s. As the shrink there told me, “This breaks weak people and makes strong people weak.” Yeah. Amen to that.

That was a lifetime ago. Later my husband would take his turn in the chemo room. But I had made a bit of progress. I was falling apart with grief but I had a certain core understanding that gave me a scaffolding to hang my sorrow on. I would spend all day with Bob in the chemo room, occasionally saying things silently like, “There is only the Self. There is only the Self.” And the Self that was Vicki cried out in exhaustion but she knew that something higher would see her through.

So when Peter and I began our online friendship, Bob and I led the same life during the day but in the evening I was becoming a writer. Peter was a vital part of that, as was my late friend John Logan. It was John who was able to see Bob rise directly into the light at the time of his death. It was John who told me after Bob’s death to get rid of all the medical paraphernalia I had in the house and reclaim the energy as my own. John had had throat cancer but ultimately died of a stroke. But like Peter, he fed me when the world could not.

Any teaching that doesn’t feed you when you are at your weakest is suspect. I avoid dry discourses like the plague. I tend to flower when getting lots of rest and silence. It is in that space that I can practice surrender. Yes, surrender has to be practiced. It is rare that anyone can make a final one.

I have no idea where I am on the path because ideas are not where it is located. More and more I feel myself entering a place of conscious sorrow for humanity. This is an appropriate reaction in this day and age; actually it has always been. Joy may come in the morning, but conscious sorrow is where you till the earth and water it with your tears and dedication to the great mystery. Now and then there is a shift into light and gratitude is the immediate response. The path takes care of the walkers; that is all we need to know. We need not try harder to make progress; it is enough to be weak and let God be our strength. And so be it and so it is.

Vicki Woodyard

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