Cathy Chester | An Empowered Spirit

The Wound Is The Place Where The Light Enters You

Fear. Illness. Disappointment. Anxiety.

The words dangle before my eyes, suspended in midair as if to taunt me. They hang in the balance as constant reminders of what is now. I close my eyes tightly, hoping the words will disappear. But when I open them they dance wildly as if to mock me for the hope that went unanswered.

I know I don’t have the corner on pain and sadness. But I’ve had more than my share, in ways I never imagined.

wound

People mean well when they offer trite platitudes like “When one door closes another one opens” or “We get as much as the Lord thinks we can handle” but those maxims were created by people looking for easy answers. They’ve never stopped anyone’s anxieties.

Whatever lessons I’ve learned came from the brilliance of others who offered hope and resilience through words or action.   

When I was thirteen my brother gave me the book “The Prophet” by Kahlil Gibran. I quickly devoured it. As I allowed the words to wash over me something powerful happened. My inner spirit came to life as if there was a birth. And there was. It was the beginning of my passion for philosophy and spirituality. I felt my inner spirit coming out of the darkness and into the light.  

Gibran offered me a way to look at life through a different lens. Changing your perspective can change your world.

wound

The words of great philosophers, poets and men and women of peace give us comfort during troubled times. Ordinary folks living their lives with integrity, dignity and compassion provide us with examples to live by.

They all give us the tools to live an honorable life in an imperfect world. Living is not determined by what life brings to us but by the attitude we bring to it.

At a young age I learned that my attitude would be the key to living a life of joy and passion. Little did I know how handy this would be at a seminal moment in my life when, at the tender age of twenty-eight, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and became part of the disability community. I leaned on the philosophy of Gibran to help me face my greatest challenge.  

Buddhism helped me deal with adversity. When things fall apart, feel lucky instead of angry. Yes, lucky. By facing fear we find the courage to grow stronger. Leaning into fear is an opportunity to flourish.   

But still, life sometimes hurls bushels of lemons at us and we’re unable to make lemonade. Our troubles seem too difficult to overcome and we think we’ll never recover.

Breathe. Step outside of yourself and look through a new lens. We always have two choices: feel sorry for ourselves or treat the lemons as a gift. Every challenge is either an obstacle or an opportunity to grow. The choice is ours.

My lemon is my chronic illness. It’s a battlefield, a daily war zone of fatigue, pain, weakness, anxiety and even depression.

Yet every day I am grateful for the morning sunrise. I can get out of bed. Dress myself. Bathe myself. Feed myself. I can walk and use both hands. I can hug my husband with both arms. And my son. And my cats. I have work I’m passionate about and the ability to help others feel less frightened and isolated.

And I can make my own choices.

No matter what course my disease takes in the coming years I will remain strong. I will always use my voice to make a difference in the lives of others, and to let the world know that this disabled woman will always matter.

At some point in our lives we will all stand on the precipice of fear and have to choose which direction we want to go.

I choose to live in gratitude, no matter how many lemons are thrown my way. I count my blessings, turn toward fear and keep my head in the direction of the sun to face another challenge. Nothing is going to hold me back. Because, as my favorite quote by Rumi says:

“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”

 

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36 thoughts on “The Wound Is The Place Where The Light Enters You

  1. Anne Bushell

    Hi Cathy,
    I really enjoy reading your blog! You set an amazing example for the rest of us!
    Have you considered combining your essays into a book?
    Thank you for sharing your insight. I pray you have more pain free days than painful ones!
    My Best,
    Anne

  2. Helene Cohen Bludman

    It makes me sad to know you are in pain, Cathy. Writing can be very cathartic and I hope this is the case with you. I like the quotes you have share, particularly the one about seeing fear as an opportunity for growth. I never thought about it that way, but I will remember that. Sending you many hugs. xo

  3. Janet O'Neil

    Cathy: Beautifully written again. You have a sister here, sharing your philosophy. You are right. Sometimes they are just lemons, but gratitude does help with the bitterness. I agree with Ann. Time to begin a book of your essays to help inspire and give hope to others. I already can see the cover. ; )

  4. Rena McDaniel

    What beautiful quotes. I love that outlook. I know you are dealing with so very much right now and I know that sometimes it seems there is no end in sight. I just want to say enjoy every single day, even the bad ones. Those memories can get you through so much pain later. I am thinking of you and sending you lots of light and love. I’m always hear if you need to talk, vent, or cry whatever you need friend.
    Rena McDaniel recently posted…WHY I HATE JULY!My Profile

  5. Donna Hodos

    Thank you so much for your thoughts today, Cathy. They really strike a chord with me. I love the quotes you use. I particularly like the idea that one can choose how to see a situation, as an opportunity or a setback. I firmly believe that attitude is everything. It’s my guiding light through the tough, dark times. But optimism can be so exhausting at times, as exhausting as this disease. Thank heaven for people like you and for all those who share their thoughts and inspiration. We all need to keep on keeping on!

  6. Carolann

    I too read Gibran at a very young age and it was life altering for sure. I love what Dyer said it’s so very true. We all have our burdens and dealing with them in a positive light is far better that’s for sure. I make sure to gift each day to myself and never forget that no matter how tough things get, it can always be worse
    Carolann recently posted…7 Of My Favorite Cleaning HacksMy Profile

  7. Terri

    Thank you for reaching out in your pain and sharing these quotes. I shall hold on to the Rumi quote today especially. Wishing you some gentle moments.

  8. Amy

    What a wonderful post! I am sorry about what you have gone through and .are go ing through. Pain can be immobilizing. But you are helping yourself and others by sharing your insight and experiences. Thank you.
    Amy recently posted…Benefits of VolunteeringMy Profile

  9. Mary

    Cathy, Thank you for putting your life into words so that others don’t feel alone. I have a couple of friend’s with the same illness and have told them about your blog. They have both told me at different times your words have got them through the hardest of days. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
    Mary recently posted…Apps I loveMy Profile

    1. shifrachester@gmail.com Post author

      Oh, my goodness Mary. Thank you not only for sharing my blog with your friends but for letting me know that I made a difference in their lives. I promise to try to keep them inspired. Always. Thank you, my friend.

  10. janet tancredi

    Cathy, I read all your posts. I do post my comments. Not sure if you have received them or not. I have to admit, I have felt a little envious of you.In the past five years I have become a noticeable handicapped person. Trying to maintain some vanity and some sense of pride, I struggle everyday. I too am in the same place as you. I’m in my latter fifties, married, have grown children, and no longer work. I have extreme fatigue but fortunately do not experience tremendous pain. Or maybe, have just gotten use to it. I have now progressed to secondary progressive MS. I was diagnosed 25 years ago, so am very grateful for the time I’ve had. Still am in denial about my progression, but continue to plunge forward everyday not to be beat by this disease. I know you mentioned you didn’t have much free time, but if you can ever meet for a cup of tea, let me know. I have been keeping myself pretty busy with doing volunteer work and with the MS Activist movement. It is a constant struggle but I am trying to remain positive. Thank you for sharing your blog with us! I am sorry for any unpleasantness you are experiencing!
    Janet Tancredi

  11. Kelly Connor

    Great outlook, Cathy! I am also thankful for the things I CAN do with this MS and do my best to keep a smile on my face! Best wishes to you!

  12. BCarolyn Prince

    Words on paper can be like syllables spoken…..simply “talking” or resonating with the listener/reader …….this article speaks to my soul and I am so grateful that you are sharing your God given insights and writing ability to encourage and inspire others. You always have my love. ” Mom”

  13. Sandy Nelson

    Well played my friend. I, too, depend on my collection of quotes, paragraphs, and snippets for solace and comfort, as fear is a daily companion. Somehow by reading words that touch my soul, I don’t feel alone.The writings of C.S. Lewis can knock me over with a feather. This is medicine for me as surely as the pills are. Grace to you.

    1. shifrachester@gmail.com Post author

      Ah, yes, C.S. Lewis as well, Sandy. Sometimes I find myself on Pinterest or Google Images looking up quotes focusing on certain words or phrases. They light my way when I need them. So glad we have that in common! Medicine with no side effects!

  14. Doreen McGettigan

    I really needed to read this today, Cathy. I try to live a grateful and a mindful life but have been overwhelmed lately and needed this reminder. I know that you are dealing with a lot too and I am so sorry for everything you are dealing with and feeling.
    Thank you for these beautiful words and oh my that picture with the trees and the light made me teary, it is perfect.
    You are so talented, inspirational and a beautiful person. Hugs!

    1. shifrachester@gmail.com Post author

      I am glad I was there when you needed me, Doreen. I am sorry about all you’ve been going through. I won’t give you any advice, but I will say that you’re surrounded by those who love you. Including many friends like me – who truly care. You are a gem, Doreen. Remember that always. xo

  15. roz warren

    Cathy I’m sorry about all of the lemons life is dumping on you and impressed by your spirit and how different your ways of coping are from mine. When things turn awful in my life I complain. I don’t quote anything profound or inspire anybody. I just kvetch!

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