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You can heal your past


Sometimes as we move bravely through our days we carry a burden from our past that ruins the quality of our life now and prevents us from experiencing the blessed life that is the birthright of us all. But suppose we can heal our past if we wish?

Suppose we can see what we imagined was a difficult experience or trauma in our childhood in a new way? For example, I realize now with hindsight that what I thought was a lonely, desolate, wasted period of my life was actually a time of considerable blessing. It opened a door to a new experience of myself. It helped instil a longing for deeper meaning and happiness in life.

I felt alone and abandoned for four long years, from the age of eight to the age of 12, when I was evacuated from London to the Devon countryside in the early days of the Blitz. It's true that my aunt Eva was there to take care of me. But the cottage where we lived was quite remote, and I sure felt alone. I had no friends. And with Dad away as a war correspondent in India and Burma, and Mom working in Harrods bookshop in London, I was separated from both of them in what seemed a strange, alien environment.

Before I was evacuated, I'd lived with my mother on the fifth floor of an apartment block in central London. What did I know of the countryside? I was a child of the city. But here's what I see now that I didn't see before.

Being sent to live in a remote cottage at the end of a quiet Devonshire lane -- a cottage with no electricity, of course -- gave me the opportunity to suddenly become aware of two things that have proved to be critical components of my life ever since.

It opened my eyes to the magic of Nature. And it introduced me to stillness, the primeval stillness that we are conditioned to fear but which I now know is the source of all true wisdom and the door to true meaning and happiness no matter what our age.

What I thought of as wasted years opened my eyes to the magic of birds, and fields, and books, and reading, and picking blackberries, and exploring Devon lanes. I see I was given the gift of safety. I see how miraculous it was when my Mom came down to visit from London and we went on long bike rides to the sea.

I see it was actually a joyous thing to sit in quietness around the living room table with my aunt and sometimes my cousin -- after aunt had lit the Aladdin lamp -- eating apples I had picked earlier from the little orchard at the rear of the cottage. And I am thankful for all of it.

How about your early years? Is there anything you would like to heal, bless, and make whole as you bring it to the light of now, the light of your present day awareness?

As we touch the timelessness of our own unconquerable spirit is anything beyond the reach of our love?

I would love to share any thoughts you may have on the above. Please write, won't you? And if you enjoyed this article, please share it with a friend. Good luck and God bless.

Picture credit: Jennifer Cawley Photographs


{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Cathy Taughinbaugh February 20, 2012 at 3:20 pm

Hi Christopher,

Our past does shape and form us, doesn’t it? How nice that you can see the benefits of that period in your life which would have been challenging for anyone of that age.

I have spent time regretting or thinking about the what if’s of my past at different points in my life. I have realized that no matter how difficult a situation is, it is temporary and life will get better. We do learn so much from our experiences.
Cathy Taughinbaugh recently posted..Are You a Parent that Needs to Let Go of Denial and Enabling?


Christopher Foster February 20, 2012 at 6:18 pm

Thank you Cathy. These are beautiful realizations. Learn and live. And one more. Learn and be increasingly happy and thankful for the gift of this life. Be well.


judy February 20, 2012 at 4:11 pm

Just wanted to let you know I enjoyed reading your thoughts today and your effort is not wasted.


Christopher Foster February 20, 2012 at 7:08 pm

Hi Judy,

Your comment a little while ago was the first I received to my new post about “healing our past.” I want you to know what happened. I called my wife, JoAnn, and shared your comment, and told her how much it meant to me. We both thank you for your sweet expression of support and encouragement.


Russell Boreham February 20, 2012 at 6:12 pm


What a touching & insightful story, the gift of being alone & developing your inner strength despite adversity….


Christopher Foster February 20, 2012 at 6:20 pm

Russell, wonderful to hear from you again. Thank you for your comment. How are you doing there down under? Of course, it probably doesn’t feel like “down under” to you:-) I mean, it’s just where you are, isn’t it?


Russell Boreham February 20, 2012 at 7:40 pm

I’m in Queensland these days Chris, have moved from South Australia which was very down under! 🙂

Russell Boreham February 20, 2012 at 6:17 pm

This story touched me as I too spent years alone wandering the riverbank near my home with my labrador dog, where I learnt to observe and appreciate nature

My father was largely absent through work but also as a result of his war experience…..they now call it post traumatic stress disoder. They did not recognise it back in 1946 when he was 26 years old and already damaged by the horrors of war!

He sought solace in the pursuit of trout and also in the consumption of ale, lots of it. I do not hold him responsible for my journey but appreciate what he provided.

Nature endures and provides a womb for the male psyche…thank God.


Christopher Foster February 20, 2012 at 7:15 pm

Thank you Russell. Very, very touching. Nature has given so much. And your father, too, gave so much. It’s a privilege to share your story.


Russell Boreham February 20, 2012 at 7:41 pm

Thankyou Chris
I appreciate your wisdom & your journey…much love

Sheila February 20, 2012 at 7:49 pm

Good day Christopher
It is so true when you say the magic of Nature for it is in Nature that we are never alone nor lack an abundance of wonderous sights and sounds. It is also lovely when we come upon a wall of delicious blackberries… 🙂


Christopher Foster February 21, 2012 at 7:35 pm

Oh Sheila, you’re a writer and Nature lover after my own heart:-) Thank you for your comment. “A wall of delicious blackberries.” Mmm. My mouth is salivating already…


Evan Griffith February 20, 2012 at 9:37 pm

Christopher —

For those of us who lacked a wise father figure . . . here you are. Your site has rapidly become my favorite spot on the Internet to alight upon. The lessons you draw from the diversity of your experience . . . told from the vantage point of your vibrant, compassionate spirit . . . what better soul nutrition can be had?!

(I’m eagerly awaiting your new book–)

Evan Griffith recently posted..David’s happy birthday: When the Universe throws you an abrazo


Christopher Foster February 21, 2012 at 7:32 pm

Your words strengthen me and humble me Evan. Thank you dear friend. Thank you.


Colsie Conradie February 21, 2012 at 2:51 am

I really enjoyed reading this Christopher – it made me think this morning. Thank you for all your lessons, they are inspiring me to live the best life I possibly can.


Christopher Foster February 21, 2012 at 7:28 pm

Thank you and bless you Colsie. Your words are a blessing to me. Keep right on going, everything is going to work out beautifully.


Brian February 21, 2012 at 8:46 am

Great points. The one aspect of your ability to appreciate the change due to trauma is your ability to look back many years later and review the events with a more mature and clear mind.

When crisis enters, it is our immediate response and then the decided resolution that shapes who we are. We have a choice – use old coping mechanisms that create a bit more rigidity or create new ones. In this case it sounds as though you created new ways to help cope and gain balance.

If only we all had the tools and know-how to do this in a split second. So difficult when in the moment. Our bodies and mind are screaming for the familiar as the present demands a change or something new. Great stuff!
Brian recently posted..Components of Crisis, Part 3


Christopher Foster February 21, 2012 at 7:21 pm

Thanks so much for your input here Brian. Your comment is beautiful and very helpful. So easy it seems to keep going the way we have always gone, but what a shift when we listen to another voice that is also very powerful whispering (shouting?) in our heart: “Change. Change. It’s time for a change.”

Very happy to connect with you Brian. Wish you all the very best.


Hilary February 21, 2012 at 12:07 pm

Hi Chris … we had a relaxed post war childhood in Surrey (pre built up days!) .. but there were challenges – and it’s only now looking back I can see things that certainly weren’t remotely in any perspective until a few years ago. Too late for some things – but helpful to others .. and also to my blogging of today.

It’s interesting how the world revolves and if we can step away and pay attention we can learn so much from our quietness … we were lucky with a ‘big’ garden, fruit trees, plenty of grass – a bumpy tennis court eventually .. great vegetables grown by my mother .. conker trees to play conkers .. silver birches to climb … and trees, leaves, nuts to eat, flowers, plants etc to learn names of … a good grounding ..

Great to hear your thoughts of Devon .. I can see the cottage, the lane, the hedges .. that aren’t as they’re living things … gnarled trees, bent with moss on one side .. then the wild flowers …

So much this world offers us .. cheers to you both from a coldish Eastbourne! Hilary
Hilary recently posted..Libraries old and new …


Christopher Foster February 21, 2012 at 6:22 pm

Oh Hilary, here you go tugging at my English roots again:-) A real pleasure to share your reflections. Conkers — goodness, what memories that brings up, looking for conkers, trading conkers, taking special care of my good ones, trying to smash other kids’ conkers to smithareens…

Yes, truly, the world is filled with many gifts and it’s good to acknowledge them. Thanks so much for your comment and JoAnn and I send cheers right back to you. Stay well and take care on those cold blustery days.


Carmen February 22, 2012 at 9:20 am

Hi Christopher,
I have been one of your blog recipients for sometime now, but this blog summons me to respond. As a wounded healer, in love with wisdom and whose passion is to help people heal from the past (traumas of all kinds) this lace of poetic prose you offered up shows the redemptive quality life gives us when we allow ourselves to see it through lenses of time and wisdom that purifies our vision.

This piece soothes the soul’s need to linger in the pain of yesterday and sadly not see the true gift because of the way it was wrapped up and presented to us. Your nurturing nature shines through. Thank you!

PS:) As I read the piece, I wondered if you miss England (It is one of the most beautiful places to me) and secondly, as I read the comments I wondered what are conkers?


Christopher Foster February 22, 2012 at 3:42 pm

What a beautiful reflection Carmen. Thanks so much for your words. Your words are a gift.

What an eloquent thought you share, that sometimes we don’t see the true gift that our past offers to us because we’ve wrapped it up so tightly in our rigid “story” of our past.

I’m sure I do miss England a bit. It’s a very special place even now when it has changed greatly from a tide of immigration etc. Conkers? It’s a traditional children’s game that uses seeds of horse-chestnut trees. You and your friend each have a ‘conker’ suspended on a string, and you take turns takihng a swipe at each other’s conker in hopes you can break it apart before he breaks your conker to pieces. Bye Carmen and God bless.


Sandra / Always Well Within February 24, 2012 at 3:43 pm

Dear Christopher,

I’m so happy you have been able to take a new look at your life and remove the sting from these memories. Trauma has been a part of my life too. It’s not easy but it’s helping me to become more human. When we are really in our true nature, nothing can hurt us. With practice, we can be there more and more! Thanks for your depth and wisdom.
Sandra / Always Well Within recently posted..Could Your Love Save a Life?


Christopher Foster February 25, 2012 at 1:47 pm

Thank you for these kind words Sandra, much appreciated. Beyond the words, thank you for your spirit. You are a bright light in this world. Mmm. Your current post looks good. Stay strong now.


Noch Noch | be me. be natural. February 28, 2012 at 11:15 pm

i agree. we can all confront the past. i think it’s essential we do, so we can all move on. sometimes though, some people make the mistake of indulging in the past, and blaming the past for every misfortune of today. surely, past created the present, but we just need to learn from it, and move on, instead of lamenting over it…?
Noch Noch
Noch Noch | be me. be natural. recently posted..writing poetry again


Christopher Foster February 21, 2012 at 7:37 pm

Blessings and love to you too Russell, and thanks for the update re Queensland. All the very best mate.


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