Conversation with Dr. Melanie Turgeon!

Enjoy this conversation with Dr. Melanie Turgeon!  Melanie has been conducting choirs from an incredibly young age.  She has been working with King’s choirs since 2002 and has been on a number of tours with them and the music department (including three European tours).  Melanie has a great sense of humour and is a favourite professor for many choir students. We have also included a couple beautiful pieces from King’s choirs in this episode, so enjoy!

Download episode here: Turgeon Conversation

Stream episode here:

 

Last Lecture with Dr. Dudiak!

 

In honour of what would have been graduation weekend for The King’s University class of 2020, we are reposting the “Last Lecture” given to this graduating class by Dr. Dudiak!  The “Last Lecture” is a tradition at King’s where the graduating class invites a professor to give them the final lecture of their King’s career.  Class of 2020 puts their wisdom on display by inviting Dudiak to do the honour.

This event was organized and hosted by the Alumni Office.  Enjoy Dudiak’s wisdom!

Download episode here: The Last Lecture

Stream episode here:

“The Next Right Thing” with Witty Sandle!

Thank you Witty Sandle for this great book review!  I am adding it to my list.  I especially appreciate your “final thought” at the end of the review.  

To any King’s people reading this review, please take this as an invitation to do what Witty has done for us and let us know what you think about what you are reading.

Respond to Witty in the comment section below if you are so moved.

Peace to you all today.

 

book review: “the next right thing” by emily p. freeman – shannan ...

 

 

Book Review

“The Next Right Thing. A Simple, Soulful Practice for Making Life Decisions.”

By Emily Freeman.

 What decisions have you made today?

Did your alarm go off, kicking you out of bed?  Did you choose toast or cereal for breakfast or skip it altogether? Decisions, decisions, decisions. Big or small, they require a degree of effort in their execution. Clearly, choosing your morning meal is not the same as choosing your major, and starting or ending a relationship carries more weight than what to have for supper. Nevertheless, all these scenarios beg the question, how do we make decisions?

“What if the way we make decisions is equally as important as the decisions we make? What if choice is one of the primary avenues of our spiritual formation?”  (Freeman. 17).

Let me introduce you to a wonderful book by Emily Freeman called “The Next Right Thing. A Simple, Soulful Practice for Making Life Decisions.” The title itself tells you that this is not your usual top-five-decision-making-tips list. There is plenty of helpful material of that ilk freely available and if you want some quick strategies, go ahead and google. This book gives us something different. I came across it when I was listening to Emily being interviewed on Suzanne Stabile’s “The Enneagram Journey Podcast.”[1] The two discuss Emily’s decision-making style through the lens of her personality type, (she is a 4 for those who know enneagram) and the wisdom found in the book is a focal point of their conversation.

What’s the central message? Let’s turn to Emily’s voice. “The magic is in the word “next” and not “right.”” This, she says, has proved to be a life-saving insight for her. Like Emily, we have all at some point, been overwhelmed with too much information, too many options and too many external or inner expectations, leading to paralysis. Like Emily, we have experienced that gut-level anxiety that comes with the fear of taking the wrong path, ushering in regrets upon regrets. And like Emily, we have all longed for lightening-in-the-sky signs that bring us clear direction. What Emily does in her book is provide gentle counsel that helps us to slow down, quieten the voices and step back so we can discern how to respond to whatever is before us. This book is part storytelling, captivating us with illustrations from Emily’s real-life examples and part contemplative guide with easy-to-follow practices at the end of every short chapter. You can read it cover to cover, starting with chapter 1, “Do The Next Right Thing,” and ending with chapter 24, “Wait With Hope.” Or you can scan the chapter titles and head right to the one that seems to chime with your situation.  Juggling with competing choices? Then chapter 8, “Know What You Want More” could help you out. Wondering how the wisdom of others can bring clarity? Try chapter 15, “Gather Co-Listeners.” You will find some excellent pointers. There is also an accompanying website and podcast[2] hosted by Emily which is worth checking out – a great resource for those of us suffering from decision-making burnout! This is a book to be savored and read meditatively. It’s a book to buy and keep on your shelf because you will want to return to it time and time again. It’s practical, it’s reassuring, and it’s dedicated to “anyone who’s ever made a pro/con list in the middle of the night,”[3] which is all of us.

A final thought. How might a book like this come to our aid in this covid-19 season? I return to the title. As we are bombarded with information and advice, sometimes conflicting, and as we grapple with our fears, past, present and/or future, let’s pause, plant our feet on the ground beneath us and taking a deep breath, do the next right thing.

[1] https://www.theenneagramjourney.org/podcast/2019/episode57

[2] https://emilypfreeman.com/

[3] Dedication page of Emily’s book.

Olejuru Anozie Interview!

Olejuru Anozie (B.A. '19)

Some students stand out quickly at King’s because they are happy to “put themselves out there.”  Maybe they are a bit louder or simply involved in everything.  I don’t think that is Olejuru.  I picture Olejuru slowly walking through the halls with a calm presence, a joyful smile, and chatty friends around her.  Over time, her thoughtfulness, willingness to serve, and excellence in the classroom made her well-known in a number of different circles on campus.  One of her gifts is found in her writing.  I posted three of her poems below for you to enjoy.  

Enjoy this Community in Quarantine conversation with Olejuru Anozie:

Download here: Olejuru Interview

Stream here:

 

Olejuru’s poetry with explanation

Shadowy Spaces

Shadows. Spaces. Light. Dark. Grey. Constant noise, constant colour. Swimming in words, white, black, red. Breaking. The clock ticks, the people speak. I am a shadow; my eyes owned by the screen. How many like me sit and wonder, what is next, how many more, when will it end? Broken bodies become burdens. Stories intersecting in pieces, even when they can’t touch.

This is a prose poem I wrote in response to my being overwhelmed by all the coronavirus news. The inspiration was gotten from a reflection I wrote during the promptive writing period of my Narrative Medicine practicum workshop. The prompt was “write about the shadowy spaces around you”.

 

 Grandma’s House

Today I saw a man with two kids.

He scolded his son, told him to sit still.

He tickled his daughter, I saw her sweet smile.

He gathered his kids in his arms; they left

And floated away to Nana’s house.

This poem was inspired by a ride I took on the NYC subway. I saw a man interacting with his two young children, telling them that they would soon be at the stop they needed before walking to Grandma’s house. It was such a sweet interaction I decided to write a poem about it.

 

March 26

Remember me,

Remembering. You

Remember us

Remembering. I,

Missing you.

  • O

This was written a few weeks ago on March 26th,2020 as I was thinking about the two year anniversary of my friend’s death.

 

Thinking about Worship with Dr. Mike Ferber!

I had some technical difficulties last week with our Community in Quarantine podcast, so I thought now would be a great time to link to my friend Rev. Jonathan Crane’s podcast interview with our own Mike Ferber!

Mike is a great friend, a caring professor, and thoughtful scholar.  He joined Jonathan to, among other things, talk about Jamie Smith’s book, “You are What you Love.”  Jamie is a prodigious writer and was an I.S. speaker at King’s over a decade ago.  Interestingly, I did a directed study looking at spiritual formation with King’s grad Paul Batz a few years ago and he recently came across this book and wrote me a facebook message saying this, “Hey Tim! Have you read this book or recommended it to your students? It’s amazing. Wish it had been written so I could have read it during our study of spiritual formation.”  

If you are interested in what “worship in all of life” might look like, take a listen to this podcast linked below and possibly check out Jamie’s book.  (Also, if you are looking for an Anglican Church close to King’s, check out St. Augustine’s where Jonathan pastors.)

Ferber interview

James K.A. Smith's new book addresses the power of habit | Spark ...

 

Mike also maintains an incredible blog where he is regularly reviewing books.  After Easter he reviewed Andy Crouch’s book Playing God (Andy is another former I.S. speaker).  Check it out here:

Ferber Blogpost – Playing God

“Ubuntu” a reflection from Anji Wijewardane!

Enjoy this reflection from Anji as you head into your weekend.  I am struck by how relevant and important the message is for our King’s community at this moment.   Respond as you are so moved in the comments.

Our podcast interview for this week was supposed to be with King’s grad Olejuru Anozie.  We had a great conversation earlier this week, but the Zoom recording didn’t convert…I am still working on it, because I think her stories from her time at King’s, as well as what she has been up to in the last year, will be encouraging for many of us.

———–

Wow, the unpredictability of life! Doesn’t it really make us humble by showing us our true place as humans in God’s creation? Nevertheless, every time can be a time of gratitude. Every time can be a time of hope. Every time can be a time of reflection.

I would like to share my favorite word with you today. Initially, my favorite word was “Hakuna Matata”, it means ‘no worries, for the rest of your life’… (kudos to you if were humming it in your head as you were reading it). But clearly, it is not true. We are human, and we worry about all sorts of things throughout our entire lives. While worrying may not be a big part of our ‘generally abundant’ lives, this situation has led us to worry in many ways. Through these three weeks of the pandemic, now we get a glimpse in a way, of how some people in different parts of the world have been living their entire lives! But let’s be honest, self-isolation and running short of some toilet paper, isn’t that bad.

Anyway, back to the point; my favorite word now is “Ubuntu”, which is often translated as ‘I am because we are’. For those of you who are not familiar with the word, here is a story that connects to it.

The story goes that an Anthropologist proposed a game to African tribal children. He placed a basket of sweets near a tree, and then had them stand a few hundred feet away. Whoever reached the basket first would get all the sweets.

When he said ready steady go…Do you know what these small children did?

They all held each other’s hands and ran towards the tree together, divided the sweets and enjoyed them equally.

When the Anthropologist asked them why you did so?

They said “Ubuntu”. Which to them, meant ’How can one be happy when all the others are sad?’

The Osani Circle Game – Ethnotek Bags

I couldn’t help but realize the relevance of this word in this time of pandemic. We may not physically hold hands with each other in our community to run towards our goals, but beautiful are the ways we isolate ourselves because we care for that old person in the neighborhood, or the newly born baby next door or the hardworking essential workers who work day-in and day-out during this difficult period.

In silence, in subtleness, in simplicity, we are forced to stay out of that rat race we run everyday. Instead, here we are forced to walk in the shoes of another. Here we are, forced into downtime from hypocritic individualism to what we are truly called to be: to be for the other, to feel for the other, to walk with the other, just like Jesus did. Hence, I am grateful for this situation in a way, because it reminds me that, for us to overcome this global pandemic, it can only be done collectively.

Because if you suffer, so will I. If I am healthy and happy, it will be because of us. Ubuntu…

Picture and story from : https://medium.com/@neocody/the-origins-of-ubuntu-os-2307c996077c

Dying in Quarantine – by Janelle Borders-Denault

One of the hardest things being endured during this pandemic is being physically separated from loved ones who are sick.  One doctor I heard interviewed said that this is the worst thing about Covid-19–you drop off a loved one at the emergency room and don’t realize that you may never see them again.  This is terrible.  In this post Janelle Borders-Denault, an education student at King’s, shares a powerful and hopeful story about separation from her pépère during his dying process.  

Please respond in the comments section if you are so moved.

Squamish-based hospice officially open | Squamish Chief

 

Dying in Quarantine – Janelle Borders-Denault

I, like many others, am being shut out of a loved one’s dying process because of Covid-19. Ironically, I have spent the last year practicing for this, practicing for the moment where I could sit with someone I love through their final hours of life. Being shut out of a love one’s dying process, though, alongside my typical bedside experiences, has taught me a secret:your loved one dying in quarantine is not alone.

This pandemic is changing the dying experience for everyone right now, not just those who have the virus. My pépère does not have Covid-19; he is actively dying from an infection. But the last hand he holds will not be mine or my father’s. As of March 21st, only one, single essential visitor may visit a long-term care facility at a time. Essential visitors are defined as family, friends, or paid visitors who are providing care necessary for a resident, and visitors who are attending a resident who is actively dying. Both me and my father were blessed with one visit last week, where each of us had to go in on separate days, by ourselves, to say goodbye. And now we wait. Because of Covid 19, both directly and indirectly, people in our communities are dying without loved ones by their side.

But what if sitting with our dying people is more for us than it is for them? First of all, withdrawal is one of the first signs that someone is entering the dying process. Eyes glaze over, and suddenly any sort of embodied engagement must be prompted. When my pépère entered this stage, it was really hard for my mémère to accept. “Where is Raymond?” she would ask him. “He’s to the moon!” Pépère would remain preoccupied, ‘somewhere else,’ until she nudged his arm. Most of their conversations deteriorated into her vetting for his attention. Moreover, it is not unusual for people in this stage to report seeing deceased loved ones, which can lead to further withdrawal if their experiences are dismissed as delusion. One of my hospice patients saw a child on the edge of his bed, for example, while I was visiting. “Move!” he screamed. “Lay her down!” Last week, I told my pépère how much I love him. “You can leave whenever you’re ready,” I said. As I spoke, he sat up, looked around the room, and then up at the ceiling. “Where’s that voice coming from?” he asked. This ‘somewhere else’ where our dying endure is, I think, God’s all-consuming embrace. The very onset of the dying process, it seems, is a final one-legged swing over the saddle that rides the crack between ‘here’ and ‘elsewhere.’ It is a draw towards God’s summoning.

Withdrawal is exaggerated, of course, as active dying sets in. Each of the senses begin to slip, one at a time. Vision goes first, then touch– hearing goes last. My pépère could not see during our last visit. His eyes were always pacing the ceiling, back and forth. Though he was still responsive to touch stimuli (he swatted my hand away as I tried to place it on top of his), I imagine that he isn’t today. I picture the nurse aids heaving his limp body onto its side to inject the painkillers. He is still ‘here.’ I know this because I am still waiting. And this is where things get hard. God picks us up and swings us onto her hip when the final ride is done. But why is her touch so crushing? Let us, though, listen to those who are in it. The most shocking thing I’ve learned over this last year is that people who experience a gradual death seem to choose exactly when the ride stops. Often, it is when no one is around.

During the last session of hospice training, I felt anxious. “What do you do,” I asked the group, “if someone dies in front of you?” The coordinator was quick to answer: “chances are, they won’t.” My Aunty, who is a hospital chaplain, echoed this response. Over the span of her practice, only one patient has come close to dying in front of her. The patient decided to pass when she had just walked out of the room, and a nurse was about to walk in. My Aunty also told me of one woman who had requested a priest and three musicians, alongside friends and extended family to be in the room as her husband died. After hours of the group praying and singing, and hours of her husband agonal breathing (a gasping that is not true breathing but a brainstem reflex, which can happen shortly before death), the nurses decided it was time to clear the room to ‘give the patient his painkillers.’ The nurses knew, from the longevity of the patient’s severe state, that he was simply not able to die in such a stimulating environment. Almost immediately after the room was cleared of everyone except the wife, the husband passed. Yes, this person decided to have their wife beside them as they died. Yet, many people don’t. My friend’s father passed away last year from cancer. He died when they were out for a quick bite to eat. “He was protecting us, like always,” she smiled. Of course, there are many beautiful stories of people dying in the embrace of a loved one. But during this pandemic, it is important to know that these stories are not the norm. Dying is not communal; no one can share the immediacy of a last breath. Dying is a slow dance with the divine.

Yet, in a way, death is communal–each person, in their dying, teaches the world something. As I sit here writing this very sentence, I have an incoming call from my Dad. He tells me it’s over– Pépère is dead. And while I can’t help but picture him laying in a dark and empty room for those last moments, jaw dropped and gasping, I also wonder if he would have waited for a moment like this anyways, where he felt free to fix on the summoning voice that pulled him in months ago. Though I’ve always wondered what we do when we sit with the dying, it took my pépère’s death for me to realize that we learn. Perhaps we ground our dying through the pain, maybe. Mostly, though, they ground us. They shock us bone deep to the fleeting present. They let us go. They point towards another place. Around the globe people are dying without loved ones near. But my pépère taught me something: the dying are never alone.

 

Conversation with Heather Looy!

Enjoy getting to know psychology professor Heather Looy better in this conversation.  She is a bread baking, squash playing, (possibly surprising) rebel, who cares deeply about her work and her students.

If you don’t have much time, I recommend skipping ahead to 48:40 where she begins sharing about her husband Anthony.  In that conversation and all that follows, I think you get a good glimpse of who Heather is.  Another highlight for me was our conversation about the Silent Retreat and other contemplative practices, beginning at 35:39.

Download here: Looy Conversation

Stream Here:

 

Fear, WW2, Our Pandemic – A reflection by historian, Mark Sandle.

I am trying to release these reflections at spaced out intervals…who knows how long we will have in this quarantine!  I waited to post Mark’s first reflection on “Fear and Anxiety” related to stories from WW2 until this week because I thought it would be fitting as we walk toward the cross.  Roy Berkenbosch wrote a great sermon for Fellowship Church yesterday where he asked us to pause for a moment and…

“reflect on the  courage of Jesus to march into the thick of conflict (on Palm Sunday)- to deliberately act out the role of Messiah-King, singling his fulfillment of prophecy, yet knowing that he was not what the crowds expected (a warrior-type king) and that the ensuing conflict would cost him the ultimate price.

Read Mark’s first paragraph and some common emotional themes between war and those in Jerusalem experiencing Holy Week (not least of all, Jesus) will become apparent.  

Mark ends with 8 ways soldiers handled fear in helpful ways, in the comments please respond with patterns, rituals, habits, etc., related to the eight, that you have found to be helpful during this time.

Get To Know Your Profs - Dr. Mark Sandle: Room 6:01 Student Blog ...

Some thoughts on Fear and Anxiety I: Stories from WW2

I am currently researching the human dimensions of war, with reference to WW2. In my book I will explore how humans experienced war: the broad spectrum of emotions and behaviours which people lived out during this extraordinary time. My aim is to reveal a little of  how fear and love and hate affected combatants and prisoners and civilians, of how they coped with loss and anguish and despair, of why some resorted to treachery and revenge and indifference, while others lived in solidarity and hope.

Recently I have been working on my chapter on fear in WW2. And then the pandemic broke. So I am taking this opportunity to write up a couple of things about fear and anxiety that I have been working on. Its very much a work in progress. Maybe these voices from the past have something to say to us in our current predicament.

Obviously there are many ways in which wars and pandemics are completely different. Most of us are not facing a tank or a dive bomber in the flesh (although war is still a commonplace feature in many parts of our world today). But there are some similarities or parallels. Combatants had to deal with a constant gnawing fear and anxiety when they weren’t in conflict, and it is this which seems most relevant to us now. Understanding how millions of ordinary people coped might help us to face down fear and restore it to its proper place in our lives.

In my opening to my chapter, I noted the following:

As I sit here and read about fear in war, I am struck by how deep down the stories of fear affect me. The words on the page seem to open up a world I know nothing of, and yet in truth I know all too well the effects of dread and fear and anxiety in my own life. The dread of illness or pain. The fear of losing a child or a loved one. The deep unexpressed fears. The constant nagging presence of an unspecified anxiety. The waking early. I know nothing of war in my own life, yet in my imagination and my reading I seem to recognise the way that fear constantly assails the mind and the body and the spirit.

Fear was everywhere in WW2. And fears were multiple and overlapping. Fear for yourself. Fear for others. Fear of others. Fear of death. Fear of separation. Fear of injury. Unexpressed generalised fear. Deep abiding fear. Momentary, excruciating fear. Fear mixed with anxiety and dread. Fear produced great resilience and courage, and also panic and cowardice.

At first glance it seems rather self-evident that fear was a ubiquitous part of the landscape of WW2. After all, this was war. People die. People get bombed. People risk their lives. People get horribly maimed and burned. People have no idea what is going to happen to their loved ones. Every day fear cast a shadow. So how did armies address fear, and what did combatants do to try and cope with fear?

For the army hierarchies, this was a critical issue. Fear had to be understood, managed and diminished if the combatants were to be “effective soldiers”. The American army in particular undertook some in-depth studies to try and understand both fear and anxiety. To give you a flavour of the findings of these reports, let us look at John Dollard’s Fear in Battle (1944). Between 1942 and 1945 Dollard acted as a consultant with the Morale Services Division of the US Department of War. Together with psychologists from Yale University Institute of Human Relations, Dollard did a survey of 300 volunteers. It should be emphasised that these were volunteers (and so their experiences may differ from conscripts) and they were veterans, which may also have skewed the findings a little.

His “findings in brief” were as follows:

  1. Fear is useful to the soldier when it drives him to learn better in training and to act sensibly in battle.
  2. The commonest symptoms of fear were: pounding heart and rapid pulse, tenseness of muscles, sinking feelings, dryness of mouth and throat, trembling, sweating. Involuntary elimination occurred infrequently.
  3. 7 out of 10 men reported experiencing fear when going into first action.
  4. Fear is greatest just before action.
  5. 64 men out of a hundred agreed that they became less afraid the more times they went into action.
  6. Fear of “being a coward” diminished rapidly after the first action.
  7. Wounds most feared were those in the abdomen, eyes, brain and genitals.
  8. Enemy weapons most feared were bombs, mortar shells, artillery shells, bayonet and knife, and expanding bullets.
  9. Fear of bombs centred in the sound of the bomb dropping and on the concussion of the exploding bomb.
  10. The presence of hunger, thirst, fatigue, ignorance of plans, idleness increases the danger from fear.
  11. 8 out of 10 men say it is better to admit fear and discuss it openly before battle.
  12. 75 out of 100 believe that all signs of fear should be controlled – in battle.
  13. Experienced men who crack up should be treated leniently, deserters shot, and green men made to stay and face the music.
  14. The most important factors in controlling fear are: devotion to cause, leadership, training and materiel.
  15. Only 1 man in 4 thought that feelings of fatalism or belief in luck were of much importance in beating fear.
  16. Veteran soldiers learn that to be busy means to be less afraid: “when fear is strong, keep your mind on the job at hand.”
  17. Thinking that the enemy is just as scared as you are is helpful in controlling fear.
  18. 8 out of 10 men believe that hatred is important to the effective soldier – but hatred of the enemy’s cause, not of him personally.
  19. Fear may stimulate a soldier to fight harder and better, if danger to the self also suggests danger to the outfit or the cause.
  20. The best discipline is based on the willing acceptance of orders by purposeful and instructed men.

These findings are related mainly to the army’s attempts to manage fear in combat and so make the soldier effective in battle. However, if we broaden this out to consider fear in war, (ie the much broader experience of being at war: digging in, waiting, in transit, pre-combat, post combat, rest etc.) then we find some different things begin to emerge about fear.

Soldiers feared so many things. The anticipation of being bombed or shelled. And then when it did arrive, it was the visceral assault on the senses which brought pure terror: the screaming unrelenting noise, the shaking of the earth. It was the landmines that you couldn’t see. The fear of ambush just around the corner. So much fear and anxiety was generated by uncertainty, by what was not known, as much as what was known. Many soldiers feared showing fear. In other words, the fears that most preoccupied them were related to shame, and their feelings about themselves, and notably what others would think of them. This sense of social disgrace was often more powerful than the fear of being killed or wounded.

What did they do with all this fear? How did they make it through? There were several things that helped (and you will have to wait for my book to be published to get the full list!), but here are some that speak most pertinently to our situation.

  1. Practical actions: it was the feelings of isolation, of being totally out of control, of not being able to do anything about the source of the stress which was so debilitating about fear. And so experienced soldiers taught the new recruits to undertake practical tasks: keep yourself occupied, don’t listen to the horror stories, prep your equipment, don’t carry too much stuff around with you (keep your list of essentials short)
  2. Roll call: regular times with the people closest to you helped reduce the sense of isolation. Times of proximity were important, crucial in fact, to coping with the fear that war brought. Being together at the same time each day promoted solidarity, a sense of being in it together.
  3. Rituals and rhythms: soldiers often developed rituals and habitual practices to alleviate stress. Sometimes these were collective rituals that a whole group would indulge in. At other times, individuals would do certain things at the same time, or in the same order to lessen the power of anxiety. Taking talismans into battle. Getting dressed in a particular order. Often these were reactions to the overall absence of control or power felt by soldiers. What in their own small world could they try and control?
  4. Talking about fear: the fear of showing fear was immense, but often the fear was lessened if someone was courageous enough to own up to feeling fear, or to bring into the open a specific fear they had or were experiencing. One sergeant always soiled himself at the start of combat. He always announced it openly, which allowed others to do the same. Fear exists so much in our imaginations, in the anticipation, in our mental isolation. That is where it derived its power. Sharing it disarmed it.
  5. Times of escape and rest: rest and recuperation were critical. The US army estimated that it would take between 200-240 days for one of their soldiers to “break down” and be unable to perform. The British army estimated that it would take 400 days for this to happen, but that was because the British gave more rest periods to their troops. Rest was critical. And rest was not just physical rest, but mental distance from combat. Times to unwind. Times for sleep. Times for rum.
  6. Helping those in need: soldiers wanted to help the wounded, rescue those in trouble, defend the vulnerable. This was often one of the “practical actions” in point #1. It involved getting something done, but it was about more than being productive or helpful. It was about becoming less preoccupied with oneself, and affirming that if things got tough for you later on, someone would be there for you. It promoted a sense of being part of a network of mutual compassion.
  7. Dark humour: humour often served to lessen the fear by making the situation seem absurd or les powerful. If you can poke fun at it, it immediately became diminished in its intensity. Joking about dying, about death, about combat
  8. Spirituality: although religion was often derided by troops, the evidence is that troops turned to prayer and spirituality to combat fear and anxiety during war. Spirituality and prayer seemed to allow troops to reframe. To put their lives, or the conflict they were engaged in, into a larger, cosmic context, and to consider questions of mortality and immortality. For some, war did devastating things to their faith, but for most soldiers wartime experiences increased their spirituality.

These things were learned the hard way by soldiers from all different nations, from all different backgrounds. For fear was “the common bond between fighting men”. As we face up to months of uncertainty, it is easy to allow fear and anxiety to take up residence in our imaginings. But as the testimony of millions of soldiers affirms, fear can be tamed.

If Tim wants another one, I can also talk about fear and POWs and fear and civilians during wartime!

(I have told Mark that I would very much welcome these additional reflections!)