It’s Thanksgiving Day and as I write this week’s column I’m deeply moved by your role in why I’m especially grateful today – 1,054 reasons I’m grateful! You see, this is my 1,054th column in the Eagle since its first issue on Aug. 1, 2001. And you, my coffee companions, have been the very heart and soul of all those blessings for which I’m so grateful.
“Coffee with Warren is all about you – your ideas and experiences, dreams and struggles,” I explained back then. “We sit down together as if in one of Cochrane’s friendly coffee houses. All around us are hints of the grand history of this Alberta foothills community nestled in the beautiful Bow River Valley west of Calgary” on the traditional lands of the Stoney Nakoda First Nation.
Speaking of the Stoney Nakoda First Nation, at Morley, I must pay special tribute to many of its members who have made significant contributions to these columns over the years.
Take the late Chief Bill McLean, for instance. When it comes to Truth and Reconciliation, he was ahead of his time. Over the years, his wisdom about overcoming bitterness from his residential school days has greatly influenced our weekly chats, for he had committed his life to building bridges of forgiveness and reconciliation. Îsniyes(“thank you”), Bill. (See my May 18, 2005 column on my website, www.coffeewithwarren.com.)
This is very much in the spirit of the motto of The Christophers: “It’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.” So also, my Jan. 29, 2015 and May 7, 2020 columns are about the time I ordered a cup of light at Cochrane Coffee Traders and was served wisdom for the darkness. There were two lines of us coming up to the counter. When it was my turn, the ever-cheerful server asked, “What will it be, Warren?” And I responded, “A cup of light, please.”
Immediately, Eric Bourchier, the husky fellow at the front of the line next to me, said in an uncharacteristically gloomy tone, “Oh, I need a cup of light, too.”
Bewildered, I looked directly at my usually positive friend. He explained that life was pretty dark for him that morning. He had just lost his job in the oil patch.
Over the next few days, he told me more of his sad story, and in lending him my listening heart, he cheered up. Ever after, whenever we see each other, we hold our hands up to our chest, thumbs up, as if holding a coffee, and say: “A Cup of Light, Eric!” and “A Cup of Light, Warren!”
Ah yes, a listening heart. That’s been a theme that has become especially important to me over the life of these columns. It’s a value that, inspired by the wisdom of King Solomon of old, brought to my attention by one of our readers, and illustrated by your examples has become a special mandate for me. How can we be cups of light for each other, if we are not fully present to each other? (See my column for Aug. 10, 2011.)
Being fully present to each other certainly relates to the residential school issue brought to our attention by the late Chief Bill McLean and affirmed more recently by others of our coffee companions, such as Tina Poucette Fox, of Morley, a champion for Truth and Reconciliation (my column for Sept. 9, 2021.)
So, readers, those are just a few examples of the blessings you have been to me over these 1,054 columns. And on this special day set aside for expressing gratitude, I say: Thank you, îsniyes.
© 2021 Warren Harbeck