I received an email yesterday containing quotes from Pema Chodron.  Her analysis of many peoples’ life experience is  profound and helpful.

Chodron is certainly describing my recent experience when she says,

Disappointment, embarrassment, and all the places we cannot feel good are a sort of death. We’ve just lost our ground completely; we are unable to hold it together and feel that we’re on top of things.

To say that I am “unable to hold it together and feel that ” I am “on top of things,” as I lie here with a bent up painful leg looking at four weeks on crutches, would be an understatement.

It is extraordinary, even in this minor way, to be so unavoidably confronted, with the full extent of my fragility. This shattered knee is not something I can fix. There may be a few things I can do to support the healing process; but at this point I am not even sure what those things may be.

How do I react when it feels as if the ground has gone out from under me? How do I respond to circumstances that are so clearly beyond my control?

Again Chodron seems to sit inside my head and know the answer.

Rather than realizing that it takes death for there to be birth, we just fight against the fear of death.

I fight using denial and determination. If only I push ahead, I will get past this thing. I will slow down a little but keep doing the things I have always done.  I can grit my teeth and get through this.

But it does not work. As my knee throbs after trying to do too much, my fear of not being able to do things right now, is replaced by the fear that I might do more permanent damage and delay the healing process in my leg.

Pema Chodron suggests an alternative to simply gutting it through, suggesting we try

learning to relax and allowing ourselves to move gently toward what scares us. The trick to doing this is to stay with emotional distress without tightening into aversion; to let fear soften us rather than harden resistance.

This process, Chodron promises, has the capacity, if we allow it to do its work in us, to break open our hearts.

This continual ache of the heart broken open is a blessing that when accepted fully can be shared with all.

(selections from Pema Chodron Comfortable with Uncertainty)

That is what I want most out of this process. I want a heart that breaks open to tenderness and light. I want to touch that strong resilient place within that is found only in the company of that vulnerability against which I so commonly fight.

I know my wounds are not the enemy. They are the windows that allow the light to shine in and out. As long as I resist the work of my wounds, I make it more difficult to touch that spark of light that is my true and beautiful nature.

This present small wound offers me the opportunity to practice moving towards the pain instead of fleeing. It is training in finding the true strength and light by allowing the walls and barriers behind which I so easily hide, to being to crumble. This is the gift of a gimpy knee.