Three lessons in listening hearts top my list for 2012

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, December 26, 2012

This was the scene at St. Mary’s Sacred Garden in the hoarfrost on the weekend of Dec. 1. The crystalline fairyland, though short-lived, provided one of my most treasured listening-heart experiences from the past year.
Photo by Warren Harbeck

Well, folks, no doubt you’re all wondering whether I kept my New Year’s resolution for 2012.

You’ll recall that 12 months ago I pledged, “with God’s help and yours, to live my life with new ears of Clarity, Verity and Charity, in the hope that, on Dec. 31, 2012, I’ll have earned at least a passing grade.”

You’ll have to decide whether I get a passing grade, but I must tell you about some lessons I learned – or am learning – that are at the top of my goal-oriented list for the year, and they all have to do with gaining three expressions of living my life with new ears – or, in wise King Solomon’s words, my preference, “a listening heart.”

The first is a heart that listens and communicates accurately, sincerely and compassionately about views not always in agreement with my own.  Throughout the year I’ve kept this goal ever before me, both in my relationships with others and in my writing. To make it easier to remember, I’ve abbreviated it to just three letters: CVC (Clarity, Verity, Charity).

As my mentors in this, I enjoy the blessing of many friends from a number of religious traditions other than my own. To a large degree, some of the best teaching I’m getting from them is through my membership in two Calgary-area interfaith groups, the Calgary Council of Christians and Jews, and Abraham’s Tent, a monthly dialogue among Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Baha’i leaders, of which I’m currently co-chair.

Though our religious traditions differ, our intention is to grow in a spirit of humility, civility and respect for each other based on our common humanity and our desire to seek the greater good of all.

The second is a heart that listens to and discerns affirmingly the beauty in each other. This does not mean, as one song goes, “everything is beautiful in its own way.” To counter that, all we need consider is the ugliness of the recent Newtown, Conn., massacre.

About the importance of affirming what is truly beautiful in the people around us, “it’s all about creating a positive ripple effect,” says coffee companion Lori Craig, a human resource consultant, responding to last week’s column on that tragedy.

(Lori and I and a few others have bonded together as “fans” for each other, fanning the sometimes dying embers deep inside each of us to rekindle the soul’s fire.)

When we so affirm what is good and true and beautiful in each other, Lori adds, “strong ripples of positive energy and love” extend outward, starting with ourselves and then benefitting “everyone in my world.”

Another of our “fan club” agrees. Tami Anderson, a morale-boosting workplace consultant, says: “May we always be a fan ever gently blowing on the spirit of another, that their light may be found to grow in love, compassion and understanding.”

The third is a heart that listens to and celebrates the beauty that is all around us in those serendipitous moments too often just taken for granted – amazing moments, for instance, in nature.

Remember the hoarfrost a few weeks ago that turned our valley into a white crystalline fairyland? I do, and so does the camera in my iPhone 5, which delighted in celebrating that weekend’s breathtaking beauty, as you can see from the photo accompanying this column.

So, folks, those are the three listening hearts that, for me, represent how my New Year’s resolution for this past year is finding fulfillment.

My resolution for 2013? Through an increasingly listening heart, to learn better how to fan the embers in our other coffee companions. And to fulfill this resolution, you beautiful folks are just going to have to help me.

Thanks. And Happy New Year!


© 2012 Warren Harbeck

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