Vista wisdom for leadership

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, October 29, 2020

“All good things come in threes,” the old saying goes. Well, following up on last week’s column on vistas, here are three more, with beautiful wisdom for our politically concerned outward-looking readers.

Take this past Sunday afternoon, for instance. Mary Anna and I visited Blackwell Studio’s annual autumn art show northwest of Cochrane.

As I entered, what should catch my attention almost immediately among Marla Blackwell’s many fine works? A foothills vista titled Light in the Valley. The 24″ × 12″ oil-on-board landscape captures her view from Grand Valley Road looking outward toward our beautiful Canadian Rockies.

Later at sunset that same day I received a photo from Kenny House-Rain, a healthcare worker from Morley who delights in looking outward in the spirit of his Stoney Nakoda Elders. He had just taken a vista shot from his deck, capturing the Canadian Rockies in a dramatically different light. The beautiful sunset proves Morley is “God’s country,” he says.

Which brings us to our third vista – not as a painting or photo, but as inspiring words from an Australian reader. And his outward-looking wisdom bears special importance for our troubled world right now.

“Thanks for this,” Ron Lawler, of Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, responded to last week’s column. “Vistas are exhilarating, a reminder of the grandeur of creation. We are a big country like Canada. Our mountains are too old to be as high as Canada's but are quite extensive. Because they are round and rolling, we have the benefit of many vistas. We live near the top of a hill, so every day we can see more than 100 km. across a valley to some of our higher mountains.

“Vistas take our eyes outward and beyond to new and larger perspectives. Our leaders need that so much. I pray that there can be a lot more listening and reflecting on what vistas are saying to us.”

Long associated with Initiatives of Change in trust-building across national and ethnic divides, Ron inspires me to take seriously what “larger perspectives” one of my ancient elders had in mind for us during major elections, such as the U.S. presidential vote currently underway.

Soon after biblical King Solomon of Israel ascended the throne of his late father, King David (1 Kings 3:7-9), God came to him in a dream and asked him what he’d like. He requested “a lev shome’a,” Hebrew for “a listening heart,” that he might govern his people wisely.

Ah yes, a listening heart that is sensitive both to the voice of God and to the needs of the people; a humble heart spiritually and morally informed to carry out the awesome mandate such leadership implies.

May this perspective reward us – and especially those aspiring to high office – with beautiful vistas of justice, mercy and truth for the good of all.


© 2020 Warren Harbeck

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