Queen of Swords (qos) wrote,
Queen of Swords

First "War and the Soul" Book Group Session

During the Soldier's Heart book group we learned a discussion protocol called "Final Word."

Each person selects a relatively brief quotation from the book. Person One tells the others where to find the passage and then waits for everyone else to turn to that page. Person One reads the quote, then the person to their left shares their reactions, thoughts, etc. to the passage. Each person speaks in turn, without interruptions or questions. The person who selected the quote is the last to speak, getting "the final word." Then the person to their left shares a quote and the process repeats.

It turned out to be a very effective process for sharing and exploration. We didn't have time to discuss each line of the book in-depth, but this protocol allowed each person to highlight something that had the greatest impact on them, and for each of us to reflect on it and gain insight from each other -- not just about the book but about each other.

I found it especially satisfying because I like to speak my truth by phrasing it with the listener in mind. Having "the final word" meant that I felt I could share far more effectively because I had already heard how the others had reacted to the passage.

The quotation I chose was: Warriorhood is not a role but a psychospiritual identity, an achieved condition of a mature, wise and experienced soul.

As I shared with the group, reading this was like finding at least a partial answer to a question I had carried with me for years. Since late adolescence I have been drawn to the archetype of The Warrior, regarding it with deep respect and admiration. I have both wished to embrace it and known that it is not part of who I am. I am not a warrior, but there is a complementary aspect to my spirit which answers to it.

That spiritual/archetypal reverence has been challenged, however, by the ugliness of warfare, and my personal dismay about the the conflicts of the last few decades. It was hard to feel a desire to honor The Warrior while feeling such deep opposition to the wars in which my country has been engaged. I suspected that my attraction to the Warrior was a romantic, naive illusion, the product of too many adventure stories.

This quotation was a partial answer to my dilemma. It appears in the introduction of a book which deplores much of the way modern wars are fought and the injury it does the souls of soldiers, many of whom enlisted in search of a way to embrace the Warrior archetype and the virtues it represents. (It also addresses civilians, families, and others who are caught up in it, but this quote is about the Warriors.)

The whole book is an elaboration of why the author believes warriorhood is "a psychospiritual condition" and what his work with veterans has led him to believe is necessary for veterans to complete the initiatory journey of becoming warriors. It's powerful, fascinating stuff.

And yes, part of the reason I like it so much is that it answers and affirms those paradoxical longings I've carried with me for so many years.
Tags: soldier's heart, warrior path
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