Sunday, June 28, 2020

Dialogue Rising

Several years ago, Mom gifted four family members with a hot air balloon ride.  I must tell you upfront that I am afraid of heights -- at least in situations where there are no barriers near the edge of the abyss!  My mind raced, creating stories about why Mom thought this would be a "fun" gift for us, but I have an element of adventure in me... so I went along for the ride!

As the balloons were filling with hot air, the pilot (aeronaut) explained what he would be doing, the science behind air temperature, and the navigation skills that would be used to guide us to our destination.

Then, the fun began!

What do you need to lift you?

Climbing into the basket was probably the most difficult part of the journey.  The basket was almost chest high, a barrier tall enough to allay my heightened fears.  After everyone was onboard, the ground crew released the moorings and we gently lifted skyward.

Several things surprised me:
  • The overwhelming silence -- and peace, punctuated only by the sound of the flame bursts that heated the air;
  • The balloon amplified the conversations of people on the ground as we drifted overhead;
  • The pilot's skill in adjusting our elevation, taking advantage of the wind currents.

How do you control the ascent of your ideas?

Many years later, I marvel at this heavenly experience: using skills learned to improve or enjoy the world around... rather than through single-minded domination.

Just think of:
  • The hot air that is being expended each day to bring people down rather than lift them up.
  • The ability to release hot air, landing safely at a place that is intentional and friendly.
  • Allowing fire (passion or spirit) and wind (desires and vision) to guide us and help us achieve our goals.

Describe the beauty of your journey.

True, there are elements or events in our lives that we cannot control.  I wonder, though, what it would be like if our dialogue practices would:
  • Explain -- like the pilot -- what our intentions and goals are;
  • Become skilled at reading the currents around us; and,
  • Help people into baskets of safety that would allay -- rather than fan -- fears?

Isn't it amazing when we reflect on past memories?!  There is so much to learn -- and relearn!

Where are the currents taking you this week?  How will you rise above and be guided by your dialogue skills?

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Virtual Love and Thorns: Do I .... Everyone?

Creativity comes in many forms!  I've always believed that, but even more so in this "COVID era."  Many friends and coworkers have said they are zoomed out -- spending hour after hour in virtual meetings, trying to stay in touch and keep work teams connected while physically apart.  But, an element of creativity still lingers as people find different ways to live Separate-but-Connected.

Recently, a friend shared an updated version of Leonardo DaVinci's iconic The Last Supper painting:  a meal "zoomed" between Jesus and the apostles!

As I viewed this modern portrayal of an historic event, I wondered:
  • How would I imagine the Last Supper without DaVinci's 15th century mural?
  • In what ways do I communicate what I understand?
  • Would my beliefs change if infused with new insights?

How has Social Distancing changed your outlook?
(Photo credit:  7 Tips for Videoconferencing Like a Pro, MeetingsNet)
Whether we Zoom, FaceTime, Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, call, email, or write cards and letters, what seems constant is our desire (or need) to stay connected.  In the best of times, we remain individuals (separate) seeking common unity (community), connections that strengthen our individuality.

This Individual-Connection was evident this past weekend as I walked through newly-reopened Old Town.  Face masks on and socially-distanced, people were individually enjoying time outside together.  Familiar sites seemed new, almost like seeing for the first time!

Can you see beauty among the thorns?
An old cactus caught my attention along the walk: in the midst of all of the thorns, blossoms were ready to open -- bringing a stark contrast to this arid desert plant.  Interesting how nature uses flowers to attract and thorns to protect.

Isn't this the same with us:  we seek connectivity and love, yet our beliefs and conclusions separate us?

Do you love everybody?  Why or Why not?

Children in our neighborhood have been chalking up the sidewalks with games, puzzles, and words.  One message stood out last week: "Love Everybody."  A simple message that calls for transformation.

Maybe this COVID era isn't about the thorns of separation and boredom but about a new normal that we seek:  how we plan to treat one another when re-engaging... virtually or in person.

Love Everybody in child-like script on the sidewalk is challenging me to question the ways I remain separate from you.  Through dialogue, maybe we can explore our beliefs and understandings... finding creative ways to come together.

If you had a choice, what would your New Normal be?  How would you respect both your individuality and our common unity?

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)


Sunday, June 14, 2020

Re-Member Through Dialogue

I don't know about you, but I get excited when I learn something new!  The act of hearing or experiencing a different reality helps me to reconsider truths that I have long held, wondering how the pieces fit together.

For instance, this past week as I reflected on the issues coursing through our society, Mike - a dialogue colleague and friend, shared the following quote:

"The child who is not embraced by the village will burn it down to feel its warmth." 
-- African proverb

Do you see the beauty of your village?
Hearing this quote allowed me to re-consider the nightly scenes of voices raised and property razed.  What truths do we need to address when people have not been embraced or included as part of our local, regional, national, and global "villages"?

Mike also shared a story about how the members of an African village surround someone who has broken the rules or norms of that village.  Rather than criminalizing or ostracizing the person, the unbroken circle of family and friends remind the person of the goodness they see in that person.

This remembering -- drawing forth goodness -- re-members that person back into the community.

Where can you bring light into the world?

As Mike shared these truths from another culture, my mind exploded with possibilities:
  • What would it be like if we re-membered all peoples?
  • How does it feel when goodness is remembered -- about me? others?
  • Is there a way to include -- rather than exclude -- ideas different than my own?

Think of the transformation in our society if we focused on the humanity of each person, recognizing and remembering the brokenness that we all share, and the goodness that lights our paths!

Can we name and heal the brokenness we see?

I know that I often raise walls when I feel threatened.  I seek to protect myself from those who may cause me harm.  This skill helps me survive.  But, I wonder, is there another skill that needs to be developed?

When we notice walls going up between Self and Other, what would happen if we:
  • Acknowledged those walls;
  • Talked about the threats we are feeling; and
  • Remembered the goodness we see in Self and Other? 

Talking and re-membering -- bringing members back into our family circle, allows us to embrace one another and warm the human village with our goodness.

Prayers for justice and peace for all!
Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)


Sunday, June 7, 2020

What Kool Aid Are You Drinking?

I may be going out on a limb, but anyone who grew up in the 1950s - 1970's probably had some exposure to Kool Aid -- whether the drink, the television ads, or the change in what Kool Aid meant.  For my family, Kool Aid was more economical than cans or bottles of soda pop.  On special occasions, one of us got to pick her or his favorite Kool Aid flavor for that meal.

Kool Aid began in 1927 and lasted through the Depression, World War II, the unrest of the '60s... and has evolved into the products sold today.

What "flavor" of ideas do you listen to?
(Photo credit:  Kool Aid)

But, it was an event in Jonestown, Guyana, in 1978 that transformed "What Kool Aid are you drinking?" to "Drinking the Kool Aid."  What was once a childhood drink became an expression symbolizing extreme dedication to a cause or purpose... to the point of dying for that cause.

I wonder why my mind has been fixated on Kool Aid this week?  I've moved on from that sugary, artificially-flavored thirst quencher to more healthy options.  I think...

Who do you tend to "follow" in your media sources?
(Photo credit:  Jim Jones, Wikipedia)

Maybe it's the COVID-isolation of the past several months or events of recent weeks that raises doubt in my mind.  Even though I see myself as a good and honorable person, I wonder:
  • Have I become indifferent to the pain and suffering of others?
  • Have I noticed when someone has been marginalized?
  • Are there ideas I have accepted that hurt other human beings? 

Maybe these are questions all of us are being asked to consider.  That is, when have we been complicit in a society that excludes rather than includes.

In what ways do you reach beyond your views?
(Photo credit:  Pike County Hands of Hope)

Whether or not joining a public protest is an option due to COVID concerns, each of us is called to change the systemic injustices that we have blindly accepted.

Self dialogue and external conversations will help us explore the kool aid we have been drinking, the various flavors that have poisoned our Ways of Thinking and Being in this complicated world.  Rather than barricading ourselves behind conclusions we hold dear, it is time to reach out and seek understanding of another person's experience.

In these tough times we are being asked to dismantle our human-created systemic -isms and envision a future where we grasp each others' hands for love and support.

Let peace -- and justice -- begin with me!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)