Pleasant words, like Stampede pancakes, sweet to the soul

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, July 11, 2019

Golden hotcakes with syrup and sausages brought our community together once more for pleasant, soul-sweetening conversations at this year’s Grand Central Businesses Stampede pancake breakfast.
Photo by Warren Harbeck

“Pleasant words are like a honeycomb,” the ancient saying goes, “sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” But one of our delightful Stampede traditions leads me to paraphrase those words from Proverbs 16:24 as follows: Pleasant words are like a pancake breakfast, sweetening the soul of our community with the syrup of neighborliness and goodwill.

That’s certainly what I’ve experienced at several area pancake breakfasts the past week.

This Monday, for instance, many of us accepted Cochrane’s Grand Central Businesses’ invitation to join them once more in their annual flapjack feed. The syrup-sweetened pancakes served as a catalyst to open up conversations among folks who may not have connected with each other for months. Good taste led to good visits, good laughs, good memories.

Just a day earlier I attended a similar event in Calgary. That’s when, while eating and sipping together, one of our readers taught me some important wisdom for life in our troubled times.

Carl Renoud, a frequent visitor to Cochrane, is a retired businessman who enjoys sharing and learning with other seekers over a cup of coffee. He told me that, during his years in managing human relations, he learned much from the biblical collection of Proverbs, attributed to Solomon, the king of ancient Israel legendary for his wisdom.

One proverb, in particular, stands out, he said: “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver” (Proverbs 25:11). Such “fitly spoken” words are characterized by truth, relevance and, especially, pleasantness.

It was something Jesus said that got Carl thinking along this line back in 1984: “On the day of judgment you will have to give an account for every careless word you utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:36–37).

“Those verses had a profound effect on my ‘spoken words’ from that time forward, both in my work in business as well as at home,” Carl said. “In fact, I believe those verses were strongly instrumental in saving my marriage that year.”

That’s where the related proverb with which we began this column came to mind. Words fitly spoken, pleasant words, are indeed sweetness to the soul and health for body and community – they are a “Stampede pancake breakfast” for love-based life.

History has shown the destructive power of words unfitly spoken – words of malice and unforgiveness, rabble-rousing words of accusation and deception, words rotten to the core with self-interest and party spirit instead of the common good.

Applying Solomon’s wisdom to today’s global political tensions, would it be fair to suggest that “fitly spoken” diplomacy might be in order? That is, diplomacy as the art of using pleasant words to avoid unpleasant consequences – words blessed with grace and truth? Hmmm….

Thanks, Carl and our Grand Central pancake breakfast hosts, for your pleasant words and example.


© 2019 Warren Harbeck

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