My introduction focuses on stories, their place in our culture and importance, and the stories we tell ourselves, especially in relationships. We need to be careful that we are aware that we can be acting as scriptwriter and director in our own life movie playing in our heads, but the other participants may not want to follow our script!
The main interview is with Michael Peterson, an ex-Canadian army chaplain, now an Anglican vicar, whose work has dealt with a wide range of issues. In the army, he provided pastoral care for families, but also counselling for military personnel who served abroad – including in Afghanistan and Libya – who suffered life-changing injuries and PTSD, though he remains impressed at how stoic many of them were.
But Michael’s primary story addresses the loss of his wife to ovarian cancer over a period of more than two years, and the additional challenges created by her having Type 1 Diabetes and other complications. [WARNING: some parts of the interview with Michael deal with difficult subject matter – cancer, medical detail, death and grief – that some listeners may find upsetting.] But both he and his late wife faced this terrible situation with dignity, their faith being a cornerstone of their resilience. Michael also talks about the fact that having acted as a counsellor himself for many years, he found himself reaching out for therapy to help him cope during this difficult time.
But his story is not all doom and gloom, and it has what can only be described as a surprisingly happy ending. I’m sure you’ll agree that Michael is a remarkable guest, and I was incredibly impressed with how he managed to tell his harrowing story in such a calm and measured way. (And this was the first time he had ever related these events to a stranger.)
Finally, I pick up the subject of stories again in my Relaxation on the Beach meditation, and how we can use compassion to free ourselves from rumination and anxiety.
Resources and bonus material for this show
Royal Canadian Army Chaplain Corps (Wikipedia)
What Exactly Does a Military Chaplain Do? (ChristianWeek)
The Relaxation on the Beach segment from this episode.