Saturday, December 25, 2021

Peace and Goodwill to All

Traveling during the holidays sheds a different light on how people celebrate the December holy days and holidays.  I have found that many countries, cultures, families, and individuals have similar traditions... but with a personal twist that has been passed down and altered.

Most people recognize the Man-in-Red whether he is called Santa Claus or Father Christmas (English, American), Kris Kringle (American), Père Noël (French: Father Christmas), Papa Noel (Spanish: Father Christmas), Babbo Natale (Italian: Daddy Christmas), Weihnachtsmann (German: Christmas Man), Ded Moroz (Russian: Grandfather Frost), or Święty Mikołaj (Polish: St. Nicholas).

Last year during the pandemic, I came across a San Diego version:  Santa Claus on a paddle board!

How do you experience the holidays?
(Photo:  Mission Bay, San Diego - 2020)

We see decorated trees, manger scenes, and lights brightening the darkness.  Christmas or holiday music plays nonstop reminding us of religious beliefs and memories of Christmases Past.  I have experienced Christmas in the dark winter months (northern hemisphere) and the long, bright evenings of summer months (southern hemisphere).

The spirit of Christmas permeates many of the countries throughout the world.

What brightens your life?
(Photo:  Fed Square, Melbourne Australia - 2018)

Our beliefs and symbols may come in contact and in conflict with others.  For instance, I have heard some people reacting strongly when they see the word Xmas -- assuming that X is replacing Christ.  "Keep Christ in Christmas" becomes the rallying cry!  This is where we might stop, ask questions, and listen to what is in another person's heart and understanding.

In the early days of the Christian church, the letter X (Greek letter for Chi) was used as a secret symbol by Christians.  It was the first letter of the Greek word, Christ, and was used to identify believers.  Knowing the Greek meaning of X allows us to understand that Xmas and Christmas are synonymous:  we are each pointing to the Christ Mass celebrated.

How do you balance your beliefs and symbols?
(Photo: The Malecon, Ensenada - 2017)

Therefore, knowing the similarities and differences in our beliefs and symbols allows us time to reflect on our cultural or familial celebrations.  Replacing judgment with curiosity invites us to see where we feel at home... or where we might be uncomfortable.  The important question when we are ill-at-ease:  Why?

Where do you feel at home?
(Photo: Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Puerto Vallarta - 2019)

These December holy days and holidays require one thing of us:  we are invited to see and celebrate the humanity that is gifted in each person we encounter.

May this holy season bring a Pause into our lives.  May we embrace the exhortation:  "Peace and Goodwill to All!"

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)



Saturday, December 18, 2021

The Ups and Downs of Language

Language has always fascinated me:  humanity's desire to label objects and thoughts -- often abstract ideas -- to communicate with others.  I have often wondered:  Who came up with that word?  Why is that object named...?  How is it possible that we understand one another?

I am also intrigued by people who study the origin and history of words (etymologists).  Being able to listen to a word and know what words have the same roots (like author and authority or expert and experience), and which languages influenced the development of these words... all in the interest of communicating, connecting, and conveying ideas as our knowledge expanded.

Sometimes I am aware of being on autopilot, though, when speaking to some people:  rather than approaching each encounter as a sacred event of Connection and Creation, I often experience only hot air (emptiness, exaggeration, or pretentiousness).

What effort do you make in the words you choose?

The ups and downs of our communication are further complicated by the foreign languages that we speak: our natural or native tongue from our family upbringing might be misunderstood when traveling beyond our familial boundaries.

A friend of mine served two years in Turkey with the Peace Corps.  He has many stories of teaching English and learning Turkish.  As he was sharing with me simple words like Yes (Evet) and No (Hayir), I noticed my mind recalling a hot air balloon trip I took many years ago.  The pilot would ask if we wanted to go higher.  For me, it would have been easy to respond to this English question with a Yes or No.  I wondered what the pilot would have done if a Turkish passenger had said Hayir (which, in English, sounds like higher... but in Turkish means no)?!

Can you rise above disagreements
and misunderstandings?

As we experience the ups and downs of language, I wonder if we take the time to:

  • Clarify what we have heard;
  • Share our understanding of what was said or what we interpreted; and
  • Be willing to adjust our knee-jerk reactions or thought-out responses to the new information shared?

After all, you might be having a good time and wanting to go to the next level whereas my experience might be the opposite:  I might need the situation to gently slow down, get to ground level, before I can move on.  Being on autopilot risks our ability to navigate the currents that direct where our relationships go.

How might we navigate the currents
of different languages and ideas?

The wonder of hot air ballooning is the realization of how quiet it is to float above the noise and chaos on the ground.  When the fire burner is not heating the air, silence and tranquility settles in.  But, as the balloon floats over populated areas, the balloon focuses and amplifies the sounds below:  it is easy to hear a person talking hundreds of feet below!
A lesson in communication and dialogue:  the ability to float above the noise and confusion AND to focus on what is being said!
May we learn to center our attention this week on the words people choose.  May we listen to what is being shared and not shared.  May we seek to amplify a sense of understanding.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Portraits: What is Missing?

I enjoy viewing the public artwork in my city and while traveling.  To display creativity and beauty invites or encourages us to do the same: be creative in our thoughts; search for beauty in others.  We try to connect, to recognize something familiar.

While on a recent trip, I was stopped by several forms of artwork: pieces of tile arranged to reveal a Dutch nobleman; people dressed in black and red to silhouette the face of Marilyn Monroe; and a figure seated in a Sukhasana pose.

What makes up who we are?

Each of these art objects draw upon individuals (tiles, people, strips of metal) to form the whole.  Similar to a jigsaw puzzle, a missing piece would cause the image to be unfinished, incomplete, not whole. Remember what it was like to get to the end of the puzzle and discover one piece was missing?!

Is that what it is like when a loved one dies, moves away, or leaves us when there is a disagreement?  We feel separated, unfinished, incomplete, not whole.

Can we look beyond our first impressions?
(See what makes up the black and red marks,
click on image to enlarge)

I wonder if that is also true when we do not explore our assumptions about others, our conclusions about their intentions, or how we no longer see how they have changed?  We remain unfinished, incomplete, not whole.

If we focus only on the individual tiles or people in the Dutchman and Marilyn portraits, we lose the ability to see the image that is created when we come together.  Or, maybe we are locked inside the shell of what we believe: a hollow cavern that imprisons us by our thoughts.

Is there more to us than our outer shell?

This doesn't mean that we must give up our values and what is important to us.  Instead, we are invited to share what makes us unique -- while at the same time, listen and accept what is important and unique about the other person.  What binds us together is the Spirit that created and infused us with beauty.  Our goal is to seek the Both-And of the unique individuals we are and the beauty created when we come together.

May we seek out what or who is missing is our lives and learn to cherish our ability to see the whole.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, December 4, 2021

Building Perspectives

Downtown San Diego is going through another transformation: a section of North Harbor Drive has become an eight-block construction zone.  Seven major buildings are in various stages of development: the WWII-era Naval Supply Depot was demolished, giving way to a sleek 17-story NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center San Diego, a research and development district (RaDD), and a bayside park.  Over the next decade Seaport Village will be replaced by shops, hotels, a hostel, an aquarium, and an observation tower.

I have mixed feelings about this new growth: excitement and wonder watching earth being moved and foundations laid; sorrow and loss watching the past being torn down.

What foundations are you laying for the future?
(Photo: RaDD, San Diego)

As I sit with these competing emotions, I have been reflecting on life in general:

  • How often do I hold onto past constructs and beliefs?
  • What causes me to eventually accept new ideas and insights?
  • Is there a way to honor both old and new as life changes?

Life provides many experiences where foundations are shaken or strengthened.  How do I adapt and stay relevant in our emerging world?

When do you work together for the common good?
(Photo:  RaDD, San Diego)

Standing in a safe viewing zone surrounded by various stages of development, I observe dirt being moved, surveyors marking the site, foundations being laid, and workers coordinating their activities around common tasks.  Human ingenuity and cooperation envision skyscrapers rising from these holes.
Years of planning, discussion, lawsuits and decisions brought about this day where people can work together to move from past to future.

Can you see new horizons rising?
(Photo: RaDD, San Diego)

Aren't relationships and dialogue like that:
  • Moving from the past to the present, laying foundations for the future?
  • Listening, agreeing, disagreeing, and arriving at common understandings?
  •  Eventually working together to rebuild ways to rise above the holes in our individual characters?
As we move through these final days of 2021, I wonder what must be removed to create space for 2022?  Where can we imagine ways to work together?  How might we hold lightly the past and present as we adapt to a common future?

May we seek perspectives and horizons to help us rise above our pasts!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Reflections: Barred or Bridged?

Sitting on our hotel balcony looking out at San Diego Bay, I was aware of the bars that obstructed my view.  I realize the barrier is there for my safety, but sometimes it is a nuisance when I can't see clearly.  I could make an effort to see beyond the obstruction:  I could stand up to be above the barrier!

It's amazing how often I don't exert any extra energy to get beyond my limitations... of assumptions about others; meanings I've attached to what someone tells me; conclusions I've made about the erratic driver on the freeway!

What blocks your view of others?
(Photo:  San Diego Bay)

Barriers come in many shapes and sizes, and I can always rationalize how my reasoning keeps me safe.  But, walking along the shoreline, I noticed something different.  I became aware of the natural barriers around me: the sand that slows me down when I walk; the water that keeps me from the other side of the bay; and the distant mountains that hide what I cannot see.

Looking closer I saw boats scattered on the beach and a bridge that curved across the bay:  boats that could transport me... with effort... to the mainland; a bridge that could connect me to two ways of living (island life and urban sprawl).

What would help me to traverse the mountains in my life?

Do you see bridges or barriers in your life?
(Photo: Tidelands Park and San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge)

Throughout the rest of the day I reflected on the barriers and bridges that I accept or construct.  Is it possible that I:

  • Create the boundaries in my beliefs and attitudes?
  • Build fences that separate where I feel comfortable or afraid?
  • Limit the information that I take in about you and others?
That evening I was dazzled by the reflected light of downtown San Diego:  the water barrier earlier in the day became the instrument transporting the light to me!  Once we are aware of the barriers in our lives, we are invited to transform those into bridges of understanding.

What reflections touch you?
(Photo:  San Diego skyline)

After uploading this reflected skyline photo on Facebook many people liked/loved it!  We are able to learn from one another when we share our barriers to and bridges of understanding.

The important lesson I have learned is to share the image -- the bars, water, mountains, boats and bridges -- and let go.  Allow each person to choose which image speaks to them.  We can learn by observing what is liked and loved.

Moving from Thanksgiving to Gift Giving, may we learn to bridge the barriers that separate us!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, November 20, 2021

What Do You See?

Have you heard the expression "Before you judge others, you must walk a mile in their shoes"?  I was thinking of this admonition last week when walking along Coronado's Tidelands Park (San Diego Bay).  We had come across the sculpture, Penelope, a few months ago.  This time, though, we spent more time at the sculpture:

  • Where was she looking?
  • What did she see?
  • Why was this art piece placed here?

What is interesting about this sculpture are the strips of metal that overlay the face and the hair.  The curves and overlapping strands create the likeness that shapes what my mind perceives.

How do you know you are seeing what others see?
(Photo:  Penelope, Tidelands Park, Coronado)

A friend and I gazed outward, taking in the beautiful view, the clarity of the mountains in the distance, and the bridge and water close at hand.  What was Penelope seeing?

It wasn't until I returned home that I looked up Penelope's story.  She is a character in Homer's The Odyssey, the wife of Odysseus, king of Ithaca.  For two decades, Penelope waited at home for Odysseus' return.  She was faithful to him even though suitors tried to marry her, assuming that Odysseus had perished.  Penelope's story is about loyalty to what she saw and believed.

Is it enough to agree with others
- to face the same direction?

I wonder if I will ever truly understand what others see or where their loyalties lie?  It seems that so much of our society demands to be understood... for who they are; how they experience this world; for agreement and loyalty to common strands of belief systems.  But, there are so many layers to our stories as we see and experience life in our 20s, 30s, 40s and older.  Life changes us as we encounter different situations, as we expand or contract our understanding, and as we seek empathy and compassion.

When I first encountered Penelope two months ago, I noticed that the sculpture is almost mask-like: something that we are invited to try on.  Going around the sculpture, a person can lean into the back of the art piece -- stepping inside.  Looking outward from inside Penelope's mask, the water, bridge, and mountains are focused differently.  We can truly see what Penelope sees by stepping inward!

What will draw us inward to see as others see?

As with all good art -- and stories -- we are drawn closer to Life Revealed.  Various perspectives are uncovered as we move outward or inward. With Penelope, the front or outward view at first seemed so clear... but it was difficult to imagine where she was looking, what she was seeing.  Moving inward, the mask took on an almost optical-illusion quality to it -- like those portraits where the eyes follow you as you move in different directions.

Am I looking inward or outward when I walk into the art installation?  Both dimensions are available when I step closer.  Am I able to see both?  Which do I favor?

As we seek to understand what another person sees, I wonder:

  • Can we release the initial clarity we think we saw?
  • Are we willing to step inside the thoughts and feelings others are sharing?
  • Is it possible that multiple views are present -- all depending on where we stand or whose shoes we are wearing?

May this time of Thanksgiving draw us together... allowing us to be loyal to what we see... while at the same time, respecting what others see.  Let us give thanks for one another... no matter what we see or experience... differently!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Birthing New Perspectives

Over the past several weeks I have participated in virtual reunions with friends from my 8th grade class and from the youth ministry groups I coordinated.  Many of these friendships go back 40-50 years:  we are an accumulation of shared history, individual stories, and years together and separate.  In addition, November is a month of remembrance and thanksgiving: All Saints, All Souls, Día de los Muertos, Veterans Day, and Thanksgiving... and it's my birthday month!

Reflecting on the passage of time and relationships -- past and present -- provides me insights into Lessons Learned.

What impressions are created when
you meet someone for the first time?
(Photo:  Larry Gardepie, 11 hours old)

I have noticed how immediate impressions have skewed how I look at people.  I am wondering:

  • Are those impressions accurate?
  • Did I allow the friendship to reveal the depth of the other person?
  • Was I willing to be changed by new information about that person?

I don't know about you, but sometimes it is difficult to let go of first impressions!   I quickly assume I know the person because of my earliest conclusions.  I am hoping this awareness will slow me down and remind me to check out what I saw, heard, and concluded about others.

How do you see people after
they do something unexpected?
(Photo:  Larry Gardepie, displaying crocheted objects)

When my grandmother moved into a nursing home, her world became smaller, her sense of self-worth eroded, and she concluded that she no longer had anything to give.  I knew my grandmother crocheted, so I spent a vacation week with her -- asking her to show me how to crochet.  There were many moments of frustration as my not-so-nimble fingers tried to figure out single, double, and triple crochet stitches!  The time with Grandma was what we both needed:  I eventually overcame my frustration and my crochet skills improved; she passed along part of herself to a grandchild.  Soon after our time together, Grandma began to forget how to crochet.
What was unexpected:  people's double-takes when they encountered a young man working on a lace tablecloth or an afghan... like the Czech guard looking down with surprise (or disgust!), turning around abruptly, walking away and not completing his passport-checking duties on the train I was on!

Do you change when working closely
with others on a shared project?
(Photo, Larry Gardepie and project colleagues)

Our world is more connected than ever, yet at times we seem so far apart.  To bridge some of our separation, I wonder:

  • Are we willing to sit with someone and learn more about them, allowing our first impressions to be challenged?
  • Rather than projecting what we think the other person will say or do, can we invite curiosity to be our guide as we explore what another person experiences?
  • Like children, how might we excitedly anticipate the unexpected, awaken each day to a new world, and hope for change?

May we reconnect this week through our awareness of first impressions, our curiosity to learn more, and our willingness to change.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)



Saturday, November 6, 2021

Endings and Beginnings: Finality and...

Leaving the UPS Customer Service Center this past week I felt a sense of completion, a relief that another task had been accomplished, an ending.  I also felt sadness, a letting go.  I was returning the business laptops, monitor, and cords to the company that had employed me for over 10 years.  Another chapter of my life was ending.

Once back home I saw the rearranged office space, the cleaned out closet and desk drawers... and I was ready for the next chapter to begin!

Is your Life's Path blocked?
(Photo: closed gate and passage, Harfleur, France)

Reflecting on beginnings and endings, I remembered other times in my life when there was a sense of finality - that a fork or turn in the road was providing a moment of Pause and Choice.  Gained was the ability to appreciate a new perspective.

Remember those words of encouragement to look for open windows when doors close?  I wonder if hope is hardwired into us to Look Beyond closed gates and seek passages that reveal new perspectives and challenges?

What do you see options beginning to open?
(Photo: open passageway, Harfleur, France)

It is important for me, I realized, to stop and savor the transition points from Endings to Beginnings... from finality to what lies ahead.  Noticing the changes that I am experiencing -- thoughts, emotions, hopes, dreams --- allows me time to welcome in the Adventures Unfolding.

One of those adventures is sharing what I am noticing.  As an example: one of Family Circus' children states that his dad is wearing his hat backwards.  Is this noticing about Right-or-Wrong?  Is one hat worn correctly and another isn't?  Or, if we step back, maybe the adventure is all about Noticing!  One person is aware that a difference or inconsistency is present.

How do we want to respond?  Correcting... or asking questions?  Winning an argument... or considering other options?

Whose perspective is correct?
(Photo credit:  Family Circus, Bil and Jeff Keane, 11.06.21)

Maybe the ending of judgments will open us to understanding others.  Maybe the beginning of understanding will offer new or different choices.  Maybe seeking opportunities to pause and choose will finally move us to accept one another.  Maybe finality will provide freedom... to wear our hats in the way that suits us!

Endings and beginnings are not all about individual choices, though.  Finality and looking beyond comes when we can balance what is happening in our individual lives with its impact on others.  Sharing what we notice and listening to others is the beginning our society needs right now.

What endings and beginnings do you see in your life?

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Celebrating Life's Lessons

By now, I am sure that many of us have participated in a virtual meeting or an online gathering.  Zoom, What's App, MS Teams, FreeConferenceCall and FaceTime became household names when the pandemic began almost two years ago:  people needed ways to physically distance and yet stay connected.  Remote work and online learning suddenly became the norm as we were inserted into  "Brady Bunch" grids on our computer monitors.

I wonder, though:

  • Was life any different than before the pandemic?
  • Weren't we already skilled at boxing people in and keeping others at a distance?

How do you stay connected?
(Photo credit:  Brady Bunch, Wikipedia)

I was reflecting on these questions after participating in a friend's 80th birthday celebration this past week.  His wife had arranged a Zoom session where we could gather to share stories, participate in a trivia contest about Jim's life, and offer well wishes to our friend, loved one, and colleague.

Jim served at my church when I was in school.  Over the years he would guide me as a mentor and spiritual director.  We have stayed in touch through Christmas cards, emails, and virtual reunions.  Isn't it amazing when we have people in our lives who watch out, listen to, and challenge us?

What have you learned from others?
(Photo credit:  What Happens When Young
and Old Connect, Greater Good Magazine

Celebration of Life, for me, has occurred when I begin to recognize the different boxes I have created... for self-protection; safe-keeping of treasures; or to define and limit myself and others.  A box is still a box whether I store memories or create expectations.

What I have learned from Jim and others is the importance of: (1) recognizing the human tendency to understand life by defining and labeling; and (2) letting go of these restrictions we place on life.

In other words, celebrating life is the act of being in the present and accepting the person who is before us:  the person I am right now and the gift I encounter in you.

When do you celebrate life's lessons?
(Photo credit:  Young Helping the Elderly)

As we walk together, it is the reciprocal actions of giving and receiving, guiding and learning, offering and accepting that allows us to acknowledge the gifts of Self and Other.  Knowing that I don't have to be perfect releases me from one boxed-image of myself.  Understanding that I don't have all the answers opens another box.  Hearing, appreciating, and accepting truths you have learned frees me from a binary framework of Right-Wrong, Yes-No, and Truth-Untruth.

Jim described us as Pilgrim People: journeying together -- sometimes leading, sometimes following, and sometimes carrying one another.  Whether physically distanced and remotely connected or being in the same room, the invitation is to reach out, open the boxes that surround us, and celebrate the gifts we discover.

What do you celebrate today?  What lessons have you learned and are willing to share?

Happy 80th Birthday, Jim!  And Happy 6th Anniversary of this blog!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Caution Eroding

Walking along the cliffs and tide pools of the Cabrillo National Monument I was taken by the beauty of the rugged coastline.  The rhythm of the waves rolling towards and crashing against the cliffs was mesmerizing.

Signs along the way explained how rain and runoff created layers of sediment on the ocean floor.  Over millennia the sediment hardened to rock and seismic activity thrust the ocean-layered floor above waterline to create this fragile coast.  The waves carved out what is seen today.

Layers of build-up over the years eroded away to create the beauty of this day.

What are you seeing or experiencing today?
(Photo: California shoreline, Cabrillo National Monument)

As I continued to watch the waves break against the shoreline, I realized that the action of carving away continues with each undulation.  What I saw or experienced a moment ago is not the same as it is now.  Each wave brings change:  change unknown in the previous moment.  The first image is but a memory:  the second image is different and beautiful in its own way.  I needed to let go of what I have seen (past) and focus on what is changing (now).

In other words, how will the next wave create or alter what I am seeing?

Can I let go of the past
to see what is happening now?

As I read the information signs and watched the continuing revelation of God's creative touch, I pulled back from the apparent beauty and noticed other signs, pylons, and barriers that warned of the unstable nature of the shoreline as the water undercut the cliffs' base.

It was interesting -- and a little disheartening -- watching people ignore the warning signs and walk beyond the barriers: wanting to sit on the cliff's edge; needing to take a selfie against the dangerous backdrop; walking along the fragile surface that had evident cracks where rock would eventually tumble into the ocean.

How do we respond to
the warning signs in our lives?
(Can you see the warning pylons at the cliff's edge?)

How easy it is to ignore the warning signs that sediment and erosion creates in our lives:  the lies that unfold; the truths untold; the fragile natures of our relationships when we no longer trust.  Do we ignore the layers of buildup over the years?  Are we afraid to acknowledge that the sediment in our lives needs to be removed?

What causes us to not pay attention to the warning signs in our lives:

  • Misunderstanding what another person says... and not asking questions?
  • Seeing looks of frustration or anger... and not checking in?
  • Mistrusting other people's intentions or motives... and not caring?

Walking along the cliffs of my life, I oftentimes am taken in by moments that attract or distract me.  I don't always pull back and notice the barriers or signs that alert me to other views.

I am wondering:  What do you focus on?  How do you respond to warnings?  Is there a way to balance misunderstandings and mistrust with a wider view of truth and beauty?

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Sun and Rain: Seeking Balance in Life

Walking through Rossio Square in central Lisbon (Portugal) several years ago, I noticed the sun playing off water spraying from a nearby fountain.  The warmth of the sun was tempered by the cooling mist.  A pleasant encounter on this hot and dry day.

I was struck by the Beauty of Balance:  one element offsetting another; not trying to dominate; both coexisting in a radiant display of sunlight on sparklets of water.

Where is there balance in your life?
(Photo:  Rossio Square, Lisbon, Portugal)

If you think about sun and rain, we need both... in a delicate balance.  Too much sun without enough rain will create desert or drought conditions.  Too much rain without enough sun can cause flooding, swamps, and mildew.  When water and sunlight is Out-of-Balance, destruction can occur.

I wonder if being in balance or out-of-balance describes the ability to stay in relationship?  What then can we say about the balance or imbalance in our lives?

What storms overwhelm you?
(Photo:  tropical storm over Panama City, Panama)

Our divided world debates about climate change - whether it is happening or not.  We differ about life and choice.  COVID has opened new fissures about vaccinations and masks:  what is the best way to achieve immunity from an external virus.

I wonder about the virus that compromises our relationships... when we cannot listen to differing opinions.  It seems that we are no longer curious about understanding the facts of a situation.  Rather, we seek to dominate or destroy what is in oppositions to our tightly-held beliefs and conclusions.

How can this new day be different?
(Photo:  sunrise over Pacific Ocean)

For me, the beauty of balance is the desire to stay in relationship.  We may not always agree... but can we keep talking?  Can we replace judgment with curiosity:

  • I wonder what you think about...
  • I see it this way.  How do you see it?  What is your experience?
  • Help me understand how you reached that conclusion.

We cannot ask these questions if we are not in relationship.  We cannot notice a climate of change unless we are open to seeing the change in others... and ourselves.

Rain must give way to sun to create the balance that nature needs; sun must allow rain to feed the new growth that occurs when sun and rain work together; and rainbows -- covenants against destruction -- occur only when sun and rain appear together.

What relationships are important to you?  How do you stay in balance with those you care about?

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Illuminating Our Darkness

A friend and I were testing our comfort levels with our first extended trip since the pandemic began.  We talked through the risks; how we would stay observant; and ways we would check in and stay vigilant.  We wondered what our reactions would be when encountering people who might not be physically distancing or wearing masks.  Vaccinations and masks were required on this trip, but was that enough to keep us safe?

Stepping out on this first trip seemed so surreal compared to the months of limited encounters and the ever-changing landscape of what was known and unknown about this virus.  The familiarity of previous trips and pre-planning mixed with the unfamiliarity of exposing ourselves to the unexplored was unsettling at first, but it was nice to have a trusted friend to walk through this situation.

Isn't that actually what life is:  walking with trusted companions on this journey?

When in darkness, do you see any light?
(Photo:  lighted barriers shining on water, San Diego Bay)

This reflection followed me throughout the 10 days we were away:  the swirl of familiar and unfamiliar, the explored and unexplored, the known and the unknown.  I wondered... when in my life had I settled for the comfort of having The Answer, always knowing what was Right, and listening only for what I Want to Hear?

When we returned home from this journey, a magnificent storm welcomed us:  thunder and lightning and moments of heavy rainfall.  Power beyond imagination flashed through the sky, followed by the loud acclamation of Nearness and much-needed rain to quench a drought-stricken landscape.

Before the next storm, where is your focus?
(Photo:  sunset before thunder storm, San Diego)

Is Normal the goal we really want to reach -- such that we can no longer see other possibilities in our darkest moments?  Is that the question we must consider at this uncertain time in our lives?  Rather than only seeing and feeling the darkness of this pandemic -- focusing on the familiar we have lost; arguing over masks and vaccines; defining our opinions through lenses of freedom and control -- what would it be like to have a trusted friend to talk about the darkness and challenge us to see the light hidden in any moment?

As a new day dawns, does the light touch you?
(Photo: San Diego sunrise)

Waking up early one morning, we experienced a beautifully, clear sunrise across the entrance to the San Diego Bay.  The early morning light extended a reflected arm out to us, embracing us with beauty, and shining on the anchored boats in the outer harbor.  The outstretched beacon touched each of the ships individually and in their own time.

That is the way it is with us as well:

  • Am I willing today to be in dialogue with another person?
  • Can I share the darkness of my fears, concerns, and unknown answers?
  • Is there a way -- together -- to walk and explore the uncharted or unanchored regions of our lives?
  • Can we release the normal and be able to see new light and possibilities... answers that emerge from our shared journey together?

May the light of relationships disrupt the darkness of isolation.  May loud peals awaken us to the energy of change.  May we be blessed with friends who understand the dry times in our lives... drenching us with trusted waters of understanding and safety.


Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)