Sunday, October 28, 2018

We are Mysteries to be Explored…

During our dialogue practicum, Steve Wirth, one of the facilitators, reminded us that "We are mysteries to be explored, not problems to be solved."  The wisdom of this statement continues to challenge me years later.

In a society where we consume-and-throw-away and vote people off the island in reality shows, at work, and maybe even with family and friends, it is easy to forget that each of us has Sacred Worth and Value.

Questions that I ask myself:
  • When do I consider another person as The Problem? 
  • Why do I think I need to Solve the Problem? 
  • What would happen if I discovered The Mystery of Who You Are?
Question:  what exists below your waterline?
(Photo credit: anonymous photo from internet)
Freud's Iceberg Model of Unconscious, Pre-conscious, and Conscious (click on link) acknowledges that what we see is not the fullness of what exists.  In fact, only 10% of the iceberg is visible (conscious); the remaining 90% is hidden, below the water's surface (pre-conscious or unconscious).  

If we apply this understanding to our own lives, think about how much we do not know about one another. There is so much waiting to be discovered!

Question:  can I see the wonders of the world with open eyes?

When we open our minds to wonderment and discovery, we begin to see rays of hope breaking through stormy clouds of doubts and limited perceptions.

Since childhood, I have been caught up with one specific Bible verse:  "
Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you." (Matthew 7: 7).  In my young mind, it seemed that there was a hidden puzzle, an acronym, to be found:  Ask, Seek, Knock = ASK!

The key to understanding another person is our willingness to ask questions, to seek understanding, and to open our minds and hearts to discovery.  Through dialogue we can explore the mystery of the other person, to go below the surface of what we see and imagine.

Question:  how might I see beauty while I wait for discovery?

I wonder, instead of voting people out of our lives, maybe we could send out invitations to sit beside us, filling the empty seats.  And, as we wait for the door of discovery to open, maybe we can sit together and revel in the Beauty Visible and the Mystery Waiting to be uncovered.

May this week help us to move beyond "problems to be solved" and to anticipate the deeper mysteries that will be revealed!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Discovering Entry Points

Traveling in the Yukon Territory recently, I came across a tranquil scene: a house surrounded by a wooden fence; an enclosed pasture; trees and snow-capped mountaintops in the distance.  It evoked both a sense of security (surrounded by a fence) and a sense of oneness with the world (wilderness beyond the ordered).

I have mentally returned to this scene several times over the past few weeks.  As I consider the national and political debate over immigration and safety, the scenes of people shouting "lock her up" at rallies, and the opportunities when I have traveled to distant states and countries, I wonder when or where have I sensed security and oneness?  Are they mutually exclusive, or can they co-exist?

Balancing security and oneness
(Caribou Crossing, Yukon Territory)
Let us consider Entry Points.  When looking at the pasture in the Yukon Territory, I didn't consider how to get into the pasture or a way to the house.  I was content with the beauty of the scene.

I did not have a need.  But, what happens when a need arises: to get to a destination or a dream?  What do we do to find and open those gates?  How far are we willing to go to have our needs met?

One entry point might be to differentiate between what we want and what we need.  Another entry point might be getting to know our neighbors and their wants and needs.  The dialogue that ensues when we encounter these two entry points challenges us to step out of our insulated lives and risk a relationship.  Looking beyond our fenced-in lives and recognizing the richness that exists beyond could introduce us to another entry point: what do we do when our dreams collide?

The entry point of knowing others
(Photo credit:  Family Circus, Bill Keane)

In essence, we are invited to consider what another person is thinking and feeling.  What would it be like if we asked... and then listened to a reality different than our own?  Through conversations where we pause, slow down, and wait, we might encounter many entry points of curiosity and discovery!

The entry point of curiosity, what is beyond 
(Orval Abbey, Belgium)

Last year a member of my dialogue learning group died unexpectedly.  The products of his artistic skills remain.  His humor and laughter are remembered.  His life experiences and his wisdom can be recalled.  But, he is still missed by family and friends.

In moments when I sit back and remember Bob, I wonder about the richness that has been lost:

  • What entry points were not taken while he was alive? 
  • What questions were not asked? 
  • What lessons have been lost because they were not shared? 

It seems that we have many opportunities throughout the day to move beyond our personal security and risk the discovery of oneness.  The challenge for each of us (another point of entry):  are we willing?

May this week provide moments of security, curiosity, and oneness that go beyond our fenced in lives!  May we seek out entry points that bring us into relationship!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, October 14, 2018

What R Show are You Living?

Collins Dictionary defines a reality show as "a type of television program that aims to show how ordinary people behave in everyday life... or in situations, often created by the program makers, which are intended to represent everyday life."

I wonder: 
  • Why are we voyeuristically drawn to these programs?
  • What missing pieces are being fulfilled by these shows?
  • With the show-edits that have created this form of entertainment, what was cut out or spliced in that doesn't quite match the messiness of real life?

R is for Reality?
(Photo credit:  Long-Hand - the A to Z of My World)

What would it be like if we created a Real Show that focused on the beauty of the relationship,  i.e., honoring and respecting each person in our lives?

Or, what do we want or expect individually that distracts from what is being revealed about us communally?  Is there a way to unlock the constraints that hold us in the past or project us into an unfulfilled future?  Maybe the R Show that we are seeking is actually about Relationships.
R is for Relationships

I know that relationships can be messy, but through the action of Reaching Out, maybe we will grab hold of a hand that will help us.  Or, maybe our hand is what another person needs right now.

Healthy relationships rise out of the messiness when we practice the relational skills of: respect, acceptance, trust, caring, patience...

How might we seek healthy relationships?
(Photo credit:  What is a Healthy Relationship?, Kiran, Inc.)

Rather than be entertained for an hour or two by passively watching a reality show, maybe our challenge is to actively build healthy relationships.  What would it look like if we turned off our social media for a few hours each day or a few days each week and practiced one of the skills?  Maybe today I could practice respect; tomorrow would be caring; the next day, listening...  I wonder what would life be like at the end of the month?

As a framework for each day, we could:

  • Select one of the words.
  • Ask a friend to help with that word/skill.
  • Describe that word-value to your practice-partner; and then, ask how that person understands the same word-value.
  • Practice by keeping in mind both definitions (yours and your friend's).
  • Notice what happens: within you and responses from others.
Possibly by the end of a few days we might find that what we were seeking in the pre-recorded reality shows is nothing compared to the Reality we are now living!

May the R-show you are living bring you satisfaction!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Our Impact on Others: The Ripple Effect of Dialogue

It seems as if the country is in a bad state right now.  The anger, bitterness, unrest, accusations and misunderstandings that we have witnessed on a daily basis may not feel good -- no matter which side or perspective you identify with.

Questions that many people are asking - with cloudy or unclear answers:
  • Where do we go from here?
  • What kind of nation are we becoming?
  • How do we overcome the intolerant emotions and actions that are rippling outward?

How often do we notice the outward ripple
of our words and actions?

I don't always notice the impact I have had on those around me.  Instead, I seem programmed to focus on my own wants, needs, and interests.  In moments of discord, I may begin to see the hurt and destruction I have had on relationships -- at home, at work, and in my community.  But, what about those other moments when I am not responding to hurt and separation?  Am I impacting others in positive ways as well?

Just think of our many roles (as parent, sibling, child, work colleague, friend, spouse, citizen):  Are we aware of how our words and actions -- influenced or seen through each role -- can positively effect those we meet?  A supervisor praising an employee has a different impact than unchecked criticism.  A spouse or partner saying and demonstrating, "I love you."  A parent gently and lovingly responding to a child.  A coworker cheering on our success.

I believe that each person has great power:  destructive power; healing power; power to influence a different outcome.

When will we sit and listen, with the
intention of understanding?

But, it seems that too many chairs are left empty:  times and places where we are invited to sit down and ask questions, questions rising from a genuine curiosity about another person's perspective.  Instead, in my experience and limited perspective, it seems that questions are asked to trap the other person or prove our way of thinking.

I wonder, as we contemplate the earlier questions of future direction and who we want to become, maybe it is time to sit down, relax, and allow our curiosity to rise within:

  • What are your thoughts about...?
  • How did you come to your understanding of...?
  • Where do you think we can go from here...?
  • What frightens you about the future...?

And, after asking these questions, the challenge is to remain seated... and listen, truly listen, to the wonder of another way of seeing and experiencing life.  We don't need to decide "who is right" and "who is wrong."  Instead, maybe it is time to just listen, and ask more questions.

If we accept this invitation, we might be led to letting go of our duality:  the duality of competition, conquest, and rightness/wrongness.  Is that so frightening?

Can  we at least celebrate our different views?

The individual challenge for each of us at this point in our country's history -- and the communal response to recent events -- requires that each one of us decides:
  • Am I happy with the current discourse?
  • What does Other mean to Me?
  • Can I remain in relationship with those I don't understand?
  • Am I willing to positively influence the future?

The fact is:  we impact each other - whether we notice the impact or not.  Our words and actions ripple outward and touch many lives.  Let us make a decision this week to create a positive ripple of caring and understanding.  I must decide -- we must decide -- to become the change we seek in the world, Our World.

Peace to you this week!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)