On Guard

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It would definitely shatter a bone, or two.

The heavy iron end would smash through anything that got in its way. The protruding spikes were blunt and weighty.

A shiver runs down my spine as I picture how many people have been on the receiving end of its deadly blow.

Next to them sits the beautifully crafted rifles. Delicately decorated in Mother of Pearl and ancient ivory, it is hard to imagine that something so aesthetically pleasing was made to kill.

There are silver daggers, steel swords, and pocketknives, all designed to swipe and chop and slice and stab.

Gazing through the glass case, which protects the protective armour, I admire the craftsmanship of the smooth metallic suit. Every piece hammered and shaped perfectly to fit the contours of a man’s body.

As I continue walking around the armoury room of the Wallace Collection, I am suddenly struck by a thought: for all the ways we protect ourselves in war – the shields, the armour, the heavy weaponry – what about the everyday?

How do we protect ourselves against the many other dangers that lie in wait?

There are times in life when I could have done with an emotional coat of armour myself. I would have made use of its thick steel skin as a heavy defense – that way my feelings would never have been hurt, my heart never broken, or my self-confidence severely battered.

Life can be messy and disorientating sometimes. But as long as we love ourselves with all our imperfections, and protect our heart by keeping it open, that might just be all the armour we will ever need.

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