Books in our lives inspire mutual gratitude, trust

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, November 9, 2005

From your thoughtful responses to last week's column, it's clear that many of you also treasure the 'books' in your lives – the people who have had a profound influence over you.

This is about mutual trust, writes one Cochrane coffee companion:

AS A JUNIOR/senior high school counsellor, I am keenly aware of the benefits that others receive by my attentive listening and guidance. But I also try to mention, as often as I can, that I am thankful for the trust they place in me and am honored that they have allowed me to enter into their journey.

Every person's life is a story, and it is such a gift from them to be entrusted with a portion of their story, to be invited to travel alongside them and partake in their experiences, the good, the bad and the downright ugly.

Not only is spending time with people truly a gift of the heart, but your column helped awaken me to a fresh appreciation of those who share their time and stories with me. The road of life is definitely a two way road!

Thanks for reminding me!

—Cindy Zampa, Cochrane

IT'S ABOUT GRATITUDE, writes one of our loyal coffee companions from Ontario:

THAT WAS A very evocative piece on "books." On this day after All Saints Day you have made me begin to count up the many books I have been privileged to read in my long life.

This morning as I gave thanks in my morning meditations for very special people in my life, I brought back in memory the large number of folk who left their marks in my mind and soul: a Sunday school teacher who was my refuge when things got rough at home (I came from a rather dysfunctional family); a high school teacher whose wisdom in her teaching of literature knew no bounds and many of whose little bits of life philosophy have remained with me; an elderly professor in England who took us out on jaunts in the country to hear the nightingales; the world experience I learned whilst helping with the editing of an autobiography of one of Canada's revered diplomats; and so on and on.

Now you have set me on a trail that will keep me busy for days with memories. Thank you for assisting me to recall the books I might not have thought about for some time.

—Helen Hare, Oakville, Ont.

ALL THE WAY from the Northwest Territories, one of our newest coffee companions agrees with Helen:

THANKS SO MUCH for sharing some of your good memories. They make me appreciate my own memories. Sometimes it is so easy to forget how much we are all blessed, and your story is making me appreciative of all the gifts I ought to be grateful for.

—Joachim Bonnetrouge, Fort Providence, N.W.T.

I MUST SAY, it's a special treat for me to introduce Joachim to the rest of you. He sent me a note last spring asking to be included among our e-mail coffee companions. He finished high school in Fort Smith back in 1966, he tells me, then did some serious traveling, including a stint with the Company of Young Canadians.

Currently, he's a band councillor in Fort Providence, one of the communities of the Dehcho First Nations. He's also a project coordinator for the Fort Providence Residential School Society, a healing project.

To keep himself well, he likes the outdoors and hunting whenever he gets a chance to get away. For 10 years, now, he's also been a traditional singer and drummer.

When he first connected with me, he wondered if I had a bio.

I responded that the best way to get to know me was not through anything I might write about myself, but by getting to know the people I admire and write about in this column. "More than anything else," I wrote him, "they are the mirrors of my heart."

These are the people I've come to know and admire, cup by cup, e-mail by e-mail, in the everyday moments of my life. These are the "books" that, hopefully, are broadening my heart and mind and are shaping me into the person I'd like to become.

As another Cochrane coffee companion, Lindsie Haxton, so beautifully put it in her response to last week's column:

"Sometimes we can become narrow in our reading, both human and on paper, and your column expressed an openness to discovering and appreciating good reading in seemingly ordinary places."


© 2005 Warren Harbeck

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