A wonderful day is a choice even a child can make

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, December 5, 2007

Two weeks ago I asked you what a wonderful day looked like to you, or alternatively, what you could do to make it a wonderful day for someone else.

Over the next three columns, including this one, I’ll try to share with you some of the deeply moving responses I received – responses that define a wonderful day in terms of friendship, gratitude, respect for people and animals, the listening heart, a day with one’s grandchildren, an unexpected letter from a longtime friend, taking in a performance of Grieg’s music in his native land of Norway, receiving a stellar review of one’s book or new CD, and much, much more.

It soon became clear to me that at the heart of all these responses resided one feature, in particular: choice. People can choose – or not choose – to make any day a wonderful day for themselves and for others.

That was illustrated by a story my dentist told me the other day while I was his captive audience during my annual checkup.

Springbank coffee companion Dr. Ralph Dubienski is a globetrotting humanitarian who took a team of student volunteers to Soweto, South Africa, this past spring. The part of Soweto he visited was a large, poverty-stricken shanty town. His first impression was dirt and piles of garbage everywhere, and along the pathways, something he had not encountered before: walls of rusted, discarded bedsprings.

“As we walked into the community,” Ralph said, “the different properties were separated by fences made out of crushed mattress springs, old mattresses that had the fabric and padding removed and placed on their side to provide a rough fence.”

At first glance, the bedspring fences looked quite ugly, but something caught his eye that radically changed his perspective. He saw a child, about three years old, looking intently at something in the rusted, twisted springs.

Ralph got down to the child’s eye level and saw it, too. Not ugliness, but loveliness!

There, weaving its way up through a latticework of twisted, rusted springs, a beautiful blossom had captured the child’s gaze. The child had chosen to see “the beauty of God’s creation amidst worldly squalor,” Ralph reflected. It was a wonderful day for both of them.

A wonderful day can be had even amidst life’s squalor, as dentist Ralph Dubienski learned in Soweto, South Africa, from a three-year-old child who enjoyed a flower growing through rusted old bedsprings. Photo by Ralph Dubienski

I shared this story with positive-thinking songwriter Molly Hamilton. You’ll recall that I referred to her in my original wonderful-day column, where she shared words from her new song:  “It’s up to you – can you see – what the world’s gonna be – Make a choice – it’s a wonderful day – Make a wonderful day.”

There is an old saying, “A little child will lead them.” Upon hearing about the Soweto child’s experience of wonder, Molly said, “Yes, that’s exactly what making a wonderful day is all about: One wonderful moment at a time.”

Next week, more stories of wonderful days.

© 2007 Warren Harbeck

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