Before we go further, this is not a preachy post, this is about an event which happened to me during my RAF days.
In the Summer of 1974, J8122647 LAC Place was stationed at RAF Lossiemouth, Morayshire, Scotland. As with most young men, some of the chat was about girlfriends; I didn't have one, and I wasn't bothered about the situation. However, even in those days I had the ability to write good stories. One I wrote as a joke -- I threw it in the bin -- came into the hands of my Sgt. Obviously, he was worried that such powerful imagery should come from somebody so young, as I was asked to pay the OIC of our section a visit.
The OIC was an old school officer and had earned his rank through years of service, not because mom and dad could afford to send him to the right schools. He had more respect from the men than many of higher rank.
We had our talk, and he got to hear about personal issues which played on my mind. I didn't think anything more of our talk until I was told I had been sent on a course to Amport House, near Andover, Hampshire http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amport_House .
To give you some idea of the distance was like going from New York to Miami.
Over the course of the week, we had various lessons about religion and we talked about personal losses. I thought I had been sent there because friends were worried about my stories and the dark side of my psyche.
When I was there, I made friends with a female Sgt. She was 27 -- I was 18 -- and she had been recently widowed. I sensed a great sadness within her as we got to know each other over the next week.
I can't remember much else about the week apart from the house was a lovely setting with plush seats.
In my recent idea of writing about my RAF life, I did some investigating and found out Amport House is the Armed Forces School of Chaplaincy. Perhaps my Sgt & Flt. Lt saw in me something which I didn't -- it wasn't to be the last time that happened in my life-- and thought I might have made a good Chaplain.
I have been told by many friends they see me as kind, considerate and compassionate; someone they feel at ease talking to about personal issues.
I wondered if this empathy is why I was able to bond easily with people in times of crisis, or as in the case of my lovely late friend Faye in Canada, to be there at thee end to give them peace in crossing over.