My New Year’s prayer for Ukraine in hues of hope: Peace!

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, December 29, 2022

Canola field along Highway 1A east of Cochrane celebrates blue and yellow reminiscent of Ukraine’s national colours. ¬†Photos: canola field by Warren Harbeck, inset of Ukrainian flag supplied

As we reach the end of the year, I’d been hoping Putin’s war against Ukraine would be over and peace restored to the land of blue and yellow. Sadly, the war drags on, with senseless loss of life and property. Inspired by a local blue-and-yellow canola scene, I devoted our March 3 column as my prayer for peace and endurance in that land. Well, endurance there has been in abundance. But peace? I’d like to revisit that column as my New Year’s prayer for Ukraine.

IN MY FEB. 24 COLUMN I raised the question: What can we include in a whack pack for a world seriously out of whack? Well, in just the past few days the world has gone even more seriously out of whack, as Russia has gone to war against Ukraine.

Therefore, I’d like to include in the whack pack a photo I took nearly six years ago. It is my tribute to Ukraine, in the spirit of its national colours of blue and yellow, and a symbol of my prayers.

The photo is of the field of golden canola we encounter mid-summers east of Cochrane near the intersection of Lochend Rd. and the 1A Hwy. One July day in 2016 it was especially beautiful as it reached out to the heavenly blue background of sky and the Canadian Rockies.

The story behind the photo begins with my bumping into former Cochrane Mayor Judy Stewart at the post office. She had just returned from Calgary and was in ecstasy over her encounter with the golden canola against its blue background. Aware of my passion for celebrating beauty with my camera, she urged me to grab my camera and take some shots, which is just what I did. (See my column for July 28, 2016.)

How could I have even guessed the hope-filled message of that moment for today, six years later? Timing is everything, even when we can’t see the bigger picture at first.

The blue and yellow, of course, are at the heart of that message. They are the colours of Ukraine’s two-banded flag. The colours are deeply rooted in Ukrainian tradition, used on the national flag from the mid-1800s onward, banned under the Soviet Union, and officially restored in 1992 following the collapse of the USSR. The blue and yellow are popularly understood as honouring Ukraine’s reputation as “Europe’s breadbasket, or ‘blue sky over sunflowers,’ which is their national flower” (Wikipedia).

Well, when I consider the courage and perseverance Ukrainians are radiating to the world at this time of life-and-death struggle, I’m seeing the blue and yellow as emblematic of hope and freedom.

This, then, is my prayer on behalf of the people of Ukraine: May the peace and beauty of blue sky and yellow canola be restored to you, as was your flag, along with endurance.


© 2022 Warren Harbeck

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