Here’s a springtime bouquet of hope in a wintry week

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, April 29, 2009 

Awaiting transplanting into a glorious garden once this year’s stubborn snow is finally gone, a dahlia gets a head start from pots in Cochrane art-framer Bruno Struck’s shop window. Photo by Warren Harbeck

This week’s column is a potpourri of topics, from gratitude, to “sympathy sticks,” to springtime hope.

To begin, I want to thank our many coffee companions who responded to last week’s column on religious persecution of Bahá’ís in Iran. For example, Cochrane coffee companion Zabi Behin, born in Iran and a Bahá’í, wrote:

“Dear Warren, your accurate and courageous presentation of the plight of the Bahá’ís in Iran is highly praiseworthy. May your deep sense of love and brotherhood be abundantly rewarded by your Lord, Jesus Christ, whose second commandment (only after love of God) was love for humanity.”

Writing on behalf of the Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Cochrane, Pat Verge said:

“The Assembly knows that the best antidote to such prejudice is awareness and education and your column was a wonderful example of both. May God continue to bless you and your efforts to promote interfaith understanding and human rights.”

And in opposition to those political and religious leaders who would coerce their people not to think for themselves or to hold a different opinion, Okotoks coffee companion Tamara Ali added her own deep concern over the importance of thinking for ourselves – and especially of free will in matters of faith.

“We have a choice, we have a mind,” she wrote. The “uniquely divine processes of the mind . . . can remove the body from the long-formed jail of learned behaviour. . . . Our free will, with willingness and honesty, creates our changes.”

On quite another topic, for the past couple of weeks I’ve discovered the power of “sympathy sticks” to unlock the incredible thoughtfulness of Cochrane folks. I’m speaking of the crutches I was using to limp around town while my left foot was giving me some almost unbearably painful problems. Everywhere I went, someone would open the door for me, or carry my coffee for me, or pull up a chair for me. Or just inquire about my wellbeing.

Well, I’m pleased to report that I’m off the crutches now and my foot seems to be almost back to normal. Thanks, everybody.

And while we’re in an optimistic mood, I must tell you about a visit I had with Bruno Struck, proprietor of High Country Picture Framing and Art Gallery in Cochrane. I often stop by his shop to learn more about the art of writing by observing his art of framing. He’s so good at helping his customers choose the right mat and frame to relate a beautiful image to the minds and hearts of its new home, just as writers try to do with words and structure to relate ideas to the minds and hearts of their readers.

The other day while chatting with Bruno, I saw a small green sprout coming up from a row of pots in his southeast-facing window. He said he was just giving his dahlias a head start on the growing season while we wait for the end of this year’s relentless snow.

True to my philosophy of never leaving home without a camera in my pocket, I grabbed a shot of the youthful dahlia.

Thanks, Bruno, for the reminder that hope, indeed, springs eternal.

© 2009 Warren Harbeck

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