Two ‘wonderful Canadians’ bring blessing of snow to Kashmir

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, February 9, 2017

Taken at dawn Feb. 5 in Srinagar after a heavy snow, this image opens the latest chapter in Robyn MacKay and Bruce Roberts’ legacy-building adventures in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Photo by Robyn MacKay

Legacy-building? Story by story, photo by photo, friend by friend in the land of Kashmir? Again? Yup, you guessed it: Cochrane’s goodwill ambassadors Robyn MacKay and Bruce Roberts are at it once more in the Indian subcontinent.

Before I let you in on their latest adventure, however, I want to share a coffee chat I had with Rick Bergh following last week’s column on his latest book, Looking Ahead. You’ll recall that the author/thanatologist emphasizes that a major part of end-of-life preparation is “legacy-building;” that is, sharing with others the stories, lessons and wisdom that have enriched one’s life.

I asked Rick how tuning his listening heart to other people’s stories has enriched his own life.

“I live my life differently, more joyfully and purposefully because of other people’s stories,” he said. “When I work with the dying, I see them as my teachers. I need to be intentional in engaging their stories. Hearing them makes me want to hear more. They’re making me more compassionate.”

Such growth in compassion brings me back to Robyn and Bruce’s most recent adventure. A few years ago while on a cycling trek through Kashmir, Robyn became friends with the Habib family in Srinagar, capital of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, and promised to bring Bruce on a future visit.

This past weekend as Bruce and Robyn paddled up to the Habib home at the start of a few weeks of ski-touring, the family called out, “You kept your promise, Robyn; we knew you would come back!”

But lo and behold, if there wasn’t an unusually heavy snowfall in the Himalayas their first night! Unlike us snow-weary Albertans, however, their hosts were elated. “Snow brings life to the earth,” Robyn says. “In typical Kashmiri style, the people are joyously celebrating the weather while putting blame on the 'wonderful Canadians' for bringing the snow with them.”

Yes, legacy-building is a two-way street. This encounter is enriching Robyn and Bruce with stories to be treasured and shared. Meanwhile, they have become part of their hosts’ legacy of stories, too.


© 2017 Warren Harbeck

Return to Coffee With Warren home page