Sunday, November 29, 2015

Noticing: The Art of Navigating the Waters of Our Lives

One of the Dialogue "stances" or "ways of being" is noticing, the ability to slow down and become aware of what is happening within and around ourselves.  When I first learned about this skill, I found myself drawn into a sense of wonder:  it seemed as if I had forgotten what it was like to "be present" and "in the moment."  Instead, I had accepted the illusion of social media and the smart devices that are so much a part of our world; and rather than being connected to others, I had become distracted and wasn't always curious about the lives of others.

When I do remember to slow down, check out what I notice, and ask questions to clarify what I have seen or heard, there seems to be a calmness and a shimmering lightness upon the waters which nourish my life.  And, there is a sharper focus to the relationships I have with myself and with others.

Over these past two years, I have noticed something else about myself:  I have a tendency sometimes to worry about the dark storm clouds that gather on the horizon or I become distracted by the white caps of the rough waters that surround me. 

I am learning that when I practice noticing and awareness in the calm waters, these skills come more readily as I move ahead.  The lessons I learn propel me forward and I no longer focus on the wake behind me.

As we begin this week's journey dawning before us, I would propose the following questions as guides:
  • What keeps me from slowing down and noticing?
  • When - or with whom - do I notice shimmering light or stormy darkness upon the waters of my life?  (What relationships are smooth or which are more turbulent?)
  • As I slow down and notice these relationships, how can I observe, listen, and ask questions to better understand the other person?

And, at the end of the day:
  • What did I do this day that created a difference?
  • Where did I bring energy and beauty into this world?

May your journey this week be full of new adventures!

Larry Gardepie

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Awareness: The Emergence of Gratitude

The reality that is present to us and in us:
     call it Being... Silence.
And the simple fact that by being attentive,
     by learning to listen
     (or recovering the natural capacity to listen)
we can find ourself engulfed in such happiness
     that it cannot be explained:
     the happiness of being at one with everything
     in that hidden ground of Love
     for which there can be no explanations...
May we all grow in grace and peace,
     and not neglect the silence that is printed
     in the centre of our being.
It will not fail us.

   - Thomas Merton

As I slow down and notice -- sometimes with my head in the clouds or my eyes on the forces of nature around me -- I experience the refreshing waters which cleanse my heart, mind, and soul of the "messiness" and complexities of daily life.

And in this stillness, I begin to experience a new life emerging: a delicate curiosity about the people and world around me.  As I stretch and continue to listen, I reach out and search for meaning and purpose in this life.  It is through this awareness that I also encounter you and notice your kindred searching: a world moving toward consciousness.  Together, we find happiness and gratitude  - giving thanks for stillness, for life, and for a new world of possibilities and hope.

 Questions for this week:
  • What brings happiness to your life?
  • How have you shown your gratitude?
  • In what ways have you chosen to notice?

May this season allow us to slow down and be grateful: for the messiness, the growth, the emergence; and for finding one another!

Larry Gardepie

Sunday, November 15, 2015

A Key to Dialogue: Encountering the SWAV Within

Speaking of Dialogue, Gates and Keys (last week's post), I have come to realize that one of the keys to Dialogue is an awareness of SWAV.

I remember when I was seven years old, our second grade teacher was preparing my class for "First Holy Communion."  As young Roman Catholics, we were being taught about the "real presence" and to genuflect before the church tabernacle since "God lived in the church."  Being second graders we took everything so literally, and would wave to God or genuflect as we passed the church building on the way to school.

Our teacher, to further along our second grade "theology," reasoned that if God lives in each one of us, shouldn't we also be genuflecting to one another?  That was my first encounter with the concept of Sacred Worth and Value: the SWAV in each of us!

Cathedrale Saint Louis Versailles Tabernacle
As I grew older, I lost sight of this beautiful lesson of bowing or genuflecting to others.  Through my parents, my brothers, sisters, and I were taught to respect others - even those we may not like.  It was when I began hiking, camping, and running in the country that I encountered the Sacred in the world around us.  The majestic mountains, the delicate butterfly, the magical rainbow, the mystical reflections in the lakes and streams... all were writing a story in my heart of the Creator's goodness.  No longer was God limited to the church building!  Instead, I began to re-encounter God through the world and its diverse populations.

Grand Tetons in Spring (Jerry Singleton)
Now, as I try to practice Dialogue through the Contemplative Dialogue "stances" and the Dynamic Dialogue "ways of being," I am humbled by the daily projections and reflections of the Sacred Worth and Value in the people around me.  As I listen and become curious of our life stories, I recall the child-like wonder and desire to bow before you, thankful that our paths have crossed.  To complete the second grade concept of Sacred Mystery so many years ago by Sr. Ann Thomas, I am moved to joy about the SWAV Within - the Sacredness of you and me!  As we dialogue, we are reminded - and invited - to hold one another not only with respect but with an understanding of how special we are!

I end with a Hindu word, Namaste: "I bow to the divine in you"!

Larry Gardepie

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Dialogue, Gates and Keys

Last month my Practicum cohort group met for a closing retreat, finishing our two year study program on dialogue.  Over these two years we journeyed along a path - learning dialogue skills and tools intended to help us as individuals and as members of a wider community to "lean in" and become more aware of Self and Other:  to listen beyond the words; to ask questions; and to check out assumptions and meanings.

As I reflect on the retreat and our two years together, I wonder how often I expect my life-path to be fairly straight and narrow, to move unhindered toward my goals or dreams?

Mercy Auburn Retreat Center

The Practicum journey took a few twists and turns.  As we learned to navigate this labyrinthine-maze, we learned to dialogue and listen to another person's truth; to trust and accept one another; and to create a safe environment to become curious, to stand in wonder, and to seek opportunities to meet shared goals.

Labyrinth, Mercy Auburn Retreat Center
One of the lessons I learned about myself is how difficult it was for me to sit in Silence - not the silence of meditation, prayer, or quiet.  It was when "silence" (a noun) seemed to be used "to silence" (a verb) another person.  I realized that I did not know how to respond to this type of silence, a silence which seemed to stop the journey or redirect the energy.

This discovery caused me to slow down and wonder how often Silence - or my assumptions behind the lack of response from another person - becomes a barrier that crosses my path, keeping me from achieving the goals or dreams that I see so clearly.

Mercy Auburn Retreat Center
I am learning that Dialogue allows Silence to coexist.  The locked barrier in front of me can become an opportunity to discover more about myself, the other person, and what is causing the silence.  It invites different responses: to accept the barrier; to not exact violence toward the person or the silence by climbing over the obstacle to insert (or assert) my will or goal; and to hold lightly the moment and the lessons to be learned.

In fact, the stances of Contemplative Dialogue (noticing or mindfulness; nondefended learning; and nonviolence) allow me to experience the sacredness of each moment and each person.  These stances can become the key that unlocks the barriers within me.

Archway of Keys, Parliament of World Religions
Questions for this week:
  • What goals do I want to achieve this week?
  • Am I willing to put these goals aside when I encounter a barrier?
  • What barriers am I experiencing?
  • Is there a Dialogue-key that is waiting to be discovered, opening the sacredness of this moment?

Let us journey together this week, practicing dialogue, and unlocking the barriers within!

Larry Gardepie

Sunday, November 1, 2015

A New Season, A New Beginning, A New Blog, and New Dialogues-To-Come!

As I walk among the people in Old Town San Diego today celebrating Dia de Los Muertos ("Day of the Dead"), I wonder how often I walk through this life without seeing the people around me, people living or dead.  Do I hear, see, and understand the depth and gift that each person brings to our world?  Do I ask questions to get to know the other person?  Am I curious about their lives or wonder what they are thinking or feeling?

A new season has begun: with rich colors; harvests from fruits of labor; and new ways to experience endings and beginnings.  I am reminded of a recent experience at the Parliament of World Religions in Salt Lake City, where almost 10,000 people came together from throughout the world.  Tibetan monks were creating a sand "mandala" (circle or balance) to celebrate the 80th birthday of the Dalai Lama.  The monks patiently added, grain by grain, sands of many colors to slowly build a design intricate and beautiful.

 Each day of the conference, the mandala grew.  And, at the end of the fifth day, when their work was complete, the creation was swept away.  All is temporary!

A new season, a new beginning.  Are we ready to use the colors of this season to create a new life together?

As this new blog, Dialogue San Diego, takes shape, I invite your feedbook and thoughts.
  • What colors your lives?
  •  What is important to you?
  • What dialogues can we pursue to get to know one another?

May we respect the living and the dead - the endings and beginnings - in each of our lives!  And may the sands that are added by each of us build a new mandala of life, keeping in mind the temporary and sacred moments we have together!

Larry Gardepie