Photography inspires readers to notice needs of others

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, July 15, 2009 

Globetrotting photographer/dentist Ralph Dubienski captures an alpine meadow of white mountain avens in Kananaskis Country, while photographer/priest Fred Monk gets up close and friendly with a full, fuzzy "giant dandelion" (goatsbeard).

Many of our coffee companions agreed with the view in last week’s column that photography is a great way to whisper a prayer of gratitude for the moment. Several even sent some of their own images of gratitude; others provided verbal pictures.

Globetrotting dentist Ralph Dubienski, of Springbank, e-mailed an alpine meadow photo he took of white mountain avens while climbing with his son in Kananaskis Country above Elbow Lake, the source of the river that flows behind his home.

Another of our rural readers, whose identity I agreed to withhold out of respect for folks mentioned in the following, shared a Good Samaritan account that relates well, she said, to photography’s sensitivity to the moment. She wrote:

“Just a couple of weeks ago, my son was on his way home from the grandparents when he came upon a young couple setting up camp in the ditch at the entrance to the farm. They had a tent and a bit of gear which they were pulling in a children's wagon just like the one our son’s little boys use. He stopped to see what was up and heard their story:

“She was pregnant and he had recently lost his job, so they were evicted from their place in Calgary. They were making their way to her mother’s in BC. Imagine! They asked if it was all right for them to camp for the night. Our son said fine, he'd just go up to the farm and tell the others. As he turned away, he thought to himself, ‘Wait a minute,’ loaded them up and took them home to his place. His wife fed them a good supper and the young couple camped in the yard for the night. The next day, our son and daughter-in-law helped them further on their journey. The only reason I even heard about it from my son was that in the following days he felt so troubled for them and wondered if he should have done more.

“There's a world of sorrow and trouble out there, and yet I wonder if this young couple, and others like them, might be ‘Angels Unawares’ sent to see how many of us are listening to the still, small voice of the Man of Sorrows. If we don't stop to notice the bees and the flowers, will we ever notice the people?”

Noticing the bees and the flowers as an aid in noticing people describes well the philosophy of award-winning photographer/priest Fred Monk, formerly of Cochrane and now residing in Bow Island. Recently, his camera got up close and friendly with a neighbourhood "giant dandelion" in full, fuzzy form.

Speaking of which, you may recall our Feb. 18 column on the prairie pastor. Well, honouring us by using that column as the introduction, he recently published a book of his photography. Winter: images by Fred Monk can be previewed at

© 2009 Warren Harbeck

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