Did that fear come from listening to the radio? Probably not at that age. Perhaps from hearing adults talk? Yes, some of that. Maybe it came from overhearing family talk about the men from the community who would not come home. Or could it have come from seeing my father polish his big black boots that looked so neat under his khaki army pants. No doubt some stories would be passed around the quilting frame as my mother and her Red Cross friends stitched or cut sheets for bandages and supports. While I cannot answer the question of where I learned to be afraid during that last year of the war, I can remember how I was calmed.
Age five was possibly an enlightening year for me. I not only remember the feeling of fear, I also remember gaining confidence and courage. Certainly in situations of listening to the roar of airplanes as I ran to the ditch on the side of the country road, but more than that. Being juggled through the snow to the barn over my father’s hip like he’d carry a bag of feed, gave me the feeling of protection and safety. My early Sunday school years deeply planted a sense of belonging. And of course my circle of friends as I made snow angels across our front yard.
Childhood provides a place of gravity where life experiences settle. And, only as an adult can we reach back to see the importance and impact they have on our adult life. I’m now at the time of my life where I’m watching grandchildren and great grandchildren experience different situations and I wonder how they will draw on them later in their life. We may not understand at the time when we look back and see pockets of unresolved emotions, from which we might be tempted to shy away. But, opening them up to answer the question, solve the equation is worth the challenge. Healthy fear is about protection and safety. It triggers action. It's that nagging fear that hinders us and limits our quality of life. In the ditches of life, we hear the sustaining words, “For I the Lord your God hold your right hand; I am the Lord, Who says to you, Fear not; I will help you (Isaiah 41:13).
Agnes Macphail series
Grief resources - WinterGrief
21 Promises: Honouring self in the Midst of Grief - Coming soon