Reader offers report card on Coffee With Warren for 2015

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, December 31, 2015

“Serve many more Cups of Light at Coffee With Warren in 2016.”  —This column’s New Year’s resolution

A response I received to last week’s column took me back to my New Year’s resolution for 2015.

Savannah, Georgia, reader Rob Soeldner wrote: “Your columns continue to inspire and, in their own way, epitomize your last line: ‘Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me’” (Jill Jackson and Sy Miller’s hit song).

Our column’s New Year’s resolution for the past year was: “With your help, to embrace more fully a lifestyle of peace and goodwill.”

I thanked Rob, a retired military officer and world traveller whom I got to know by email when his son visited us some years ago. Describing my plan for this week’s column to offer a report card on whether the past year’s columns had lived up to that resolution, I asked him what columns especially came to mind.

Rob replied as follows:

THANK YOU FOR the privilege of being asked for some thoughts. I am indeed humbled. I could list many, but decided to pick four:

1)  January 29 column, Cup of Light: starting the year by considering the beauty inherent in humankind and its ability to bring forth goodness and grace by single acts of kindness was for me noteworthy. We continue being appalled at the world's violence and wonder what we can do. Cup of Light says this to me: on any given day, we can make a difference by single acts of generosity and beauty, whether it's a smile, a newspaper column, a painting, or simply saying thank you. These acts of kindness can roll forward and multiply. It's what we can do in making a difference.

2) April 16, Interreligious Panel: If one would simply listen when another speaks, the possibility – and better yet, the opportunity – to promote peace is born. Listening implies taking the time to comprehend the message and then add a dose of empathy to the feelings being expressed, if for no other reason than to be courteous. We would find that, in the end, all of humankind want the same things no matter colour, creed, culture or gender: peace, good health, love of family and friends, a decent wage, and the right to live in harmony in practicing whatever tradition makes us feel "right."

3) September 17, Words and Songs: The inter-relationships among culture, language and traditions came through to me in reading this column. All of us need to be mindful, and therefore respectful, of one another's words and songs, for they define us and make us what we are. The Creator has enabled leaders to be in the positions they are in, but those leaders have accountability and responsibility. Included is the respect for everyone's words and songs. If every leader appointed in this world would keep this in mind we would experience a remarkably different world. 

4) October 1, Reflecting on Reflections: Beyond the beauty expressed in the column, I saw the beauty that such scenes provide as a means to experience the beauty of stillness. Stillness revives the soul. It can re-energize one's inner self thereby allowing for contemplation, meditation and deep breaths. If we are to progress as individuals and together make humankind's journey productive, we need to find that beauty of stillness.

—Rob Soeldner, Savannah, Georgia

WELL, THAT’S QUITE a report card, Rob. Thanks so much.

I’m particularly grateful for Rob’s reference to the Cup of Light in my Jan. 29 column. It seems to embrace the spirit of the other three columns he noted.

Readers will recall that, when I’d approached the counter at Cochrane Coffee Traders to buy a cup of coffee for a guest at my table, the server had said: “What will it be, Warren?” I’d replied: “A cup of light, please.” Without missing a beat, the gentleman standing next to me spoke up: “Oh, I need a Cup of Light, too!” (He had just lost his job and was feeling a bit down.)

When I told my table guest about his comment, she proceeded to tell me about Cups-of-Light experiences in her own life, especially when she was settling in Canada as an immigrant some years ago and how even total strangers offered comforting Cups of Light to her. “We all have moments when we bleed and suffer and when our hope is thin, and that’s where a Cup of Light comes in,” she said.

As I’ve shared such Cup-of-Light moments with others since then, more and more folks have shared with me their own Cup-of-Light stories. They have become Cups of Light to me, as I hope these columns are to all our readers.

In fact, I think I’ll make that my New Year’s resolution: Serve many more Cups of Light at Coffee With Warren in 2016.


© 2015 Warren Harbeck

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