Readers see brighter future

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, August 3, 2005


Cup by cup, Cochrane provides a safe refuge from the storm clouds of life.

In last week's column we chatted about refuge in times of storm. Canmore coffee companion Phil Jones shared with us a compliment he received from a guest: "Your home is a safe house in a dangerous world." Cindy Zampa, of Cochrane, added that she has placed the words "love", "peace" and "hope" above the entrance to her home, explaining that we each can bring love, peace and hope into this dangerous world. Both pointed to God as their ultimate refuge.

I received some beautiful responses from all over the world.

From Cochrane, Elaine Phillips agreed that it is indeed a stormy world out there, and one of the casualties is friendship. "When friends in the midst of crises seek shelter, I hope I can make a difference," she said, adding that this column makes a difference in her life.

From Edmonton, Colleen Chapman wrote of how she needed those words of encouragement during a time of unexpected changes to her carefully laid plans while moving.

Charlene Pickard, formerly of Cochrane and now living in Qualicum Beach, B.C., agrees full-heartedly that we can all be refuges of love, peace and hope for those around us – "to those we know and to those we do not know, those we pass on the street who look a little downhearted, and need to have someone give them a caring smile.

"This caring costs nothing, but the rewards from that smile may bring a light causing them to feel uplifted by someone who cared enough to share a part of themselves to one who felt lost, downtrodden or simply disappointed by the cares of this world," she said.

Elaine and Fred Nordby had the recent London bombings and police responses in mind when they wrote from Red Deer. "Your last column was a refreshing treat to read about hope, peace and love when our news is so filled with terror, war and hate and confusion," they said; "keep up the good work of encouragement."

Again from Edmonton, longtime coffee companion Leanne Forest wrote: "Love, peace and hope to you! I like the idea of those words above the front door. What a special welcome that must be!"

This wish clearly had special meaning to Mumbai, India, coffee companion Raj Patwardhan.

"I too believe that these three words, 'love', 'peace' and 'hope', – and if I may add 'harmony' – are the pillars which need to be strengthened if one is to find a safe refuge in a world where storms are becoming almost an everyday affair, literally and figuratively," Raj wrote.

He suggests three simple ways of strengthening these four pillars in the face of storms of human origin:

First, following the example of the response to the London bombings, that "people demonstrate solidarity by observing a two-minute silence."

Secondly, that religious leaders of all faiths sign a joint declaration denouncing hatred, terrorism and killing in the name of religion.

And finally, that the broadcast media do more to promote love, peace, hope and harmony "by sharing with viewers such wonderful stories as you have done," Raj wrote. "I am sure there must be many more such true stories in the world which go unnoticed."

Thank you, readers, for the affirmation and inspiration. Indeed, in spite of the storms of life, we can build community that works. Our own community of Cochrane is one such place, and every cup of coffee with you wonderful people gives me encouragement for the future.

© 2005 Warren Harbeck

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