Saturday, March 26, 2022

Where You Sit

Meeting virtually with work colleagues and friends these past several years has provided opportunities to meet with people more frequently, especially over long distances.  I've had the pleasure of reconnecting with classmates from elementary school, college friends, and members of my church's youth and young adult groups.  Many of these relationships span decades!  It has been fun to see where life has taken us.

What I have enjoyed are the moments when children or grandchildren want to join the call, noticing artwork on the walls behind the person, or having unintended "tours" of their homes as they walk to more private places to continue our conversations.

There is a blending or merging of different aspects of our lives:  we become more human to each other.

What you see depends on where you stand
(Photo: stairwell in Old Pt. Loma Lighthouse, San Diego,
Larry Gardepie)

I also meet monthly with individuals on an executive team.  These mentoring calls became virtual when the pandemic began, and due to distancing requirements in their organization, the meetings are in different locations throughout their building.  And, sometimes, an individual has called in from their home or apartment.  A fun challenge for me is to guess where that individual is located that month.

Their willingness to move and adapt helped me to realize how often our perspectives change by where we are, who we are with, and how willing we are to see new perspectives.

Sometimes we need to step back to see
how we contribute to the whole
~~ Note: this picture is composed of people dressed in black or red ~~
(Photo: Judy Garland, ms Koningsdam,
Larry Gardepie)

Our dialogue practice encourages a willingness to step back and consider another view.  We do that by noticing our assumptions and conclusions, suspending our judgments, and asking questions.  We are invited into human moments of curiosity and wonder as we begin to see and understand:

  • The child within us that wants to be seen;
  • How we have decorated our mental spaces with what brings meaning; and,
  • The ability to tour the spaces we call home.

Seeing another perspective from where you are standing
(Photo: Penelope sculpture, Coronado,
Larry Gardepie)

If we are paying attention, what we see in the background changes depending on where we sit, the positions we have taken, and the stands that are important to us.  The pandemic has shown me how fluid life is and how "what is normal" can change.  Life has always been dynamic... maybe my thinking became stuck!

What we notice, responding with nonviolence, and staying open allows us to learn and stay in relationship.  Let's practice these skills this week!


Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Assumptions, Conclusions, and Late Nights

How easy it is to make assumptions... and assume they are right!  Oftentimes in the middle of the night, my mind will be unraveling the events of the day, trying to make sense of what was said, how I could have responded, and ways to rectify a situation.

Last night was no exception!  Anything electrical around the house is relegated to "The Professionals."  Since our contractor/handyman moved out of the area, we haven't had anyone to help with these tasks.

How do you respond when things fall apart?
(Photo credit:  Domino Breaches, CyberHoot)

Using Home Depot's ProReferral website, I was able to submit a request and have local professionals respond.  Talking to one of the electrical companies, we agreed on the project scope, price, and when it could be done.  We received and okayed the estimate.  Outstanding tasks: we needed to send pictures of the items we purchased and the company would call with a time when they would be onsite.

The next day I received a phone call from the electrician who would be completing the project: we finalized the cost; I texted the pictures; and he confirmed the time he would be at our house.

When do you veer off course?
(Photo: Grand Canyon Railroad, Arizona,
Larry Gardepie)

Follow me so far?  That night I replayed what had happened during the day, and wondered if Tom (the electrician who called) was from the company who agreed to do the work.  Or, was I still receiving referrals from the website?

On the call I assumed he was from the contracted company, but I never asked.  Being new to the ProReferral website, I didn't know how to stop any further referrals -- I assumed that once I had agreed to do business with one of the companies, the "match" would indicate to others that the request was closed.

The late night replay raised questions in my mind about my assumptions and conclusions.

How do you get back on course?
(Photo: Bright Angel Trailhead, Grand Canyon,
Larry Gardepie)

Through a series of texts and phone calls I found out that I had booked two different electricians!  My assumptions and conclusions were reasonable -- the company was waiting for my photos of the purchased items; we were waiting for a scheduling window; Tom's phone call occurred at the exact time that these two outstanding tasks should have been happening.

What was missing:  asking questions; checking out my assumptions; confirming what was known.

All is well -- we now have one electrician scheduled to complete the electrical work but I am tired today because of the late night unraveling of my unspoken thoughts!  I am learning that if I want to sleep peacefully at night, I must check out assumptions and question my conclusions... preferably as they are happening!

Do your assumptions or conclusions lead you in directions you did not anticipate?


Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Becoming Sanctuary

Walking around Pu'uhonua o Honanau south of Kona, Hawaii, I took in the sites of this sacred place... the people reveling in the beaches nearby, snorkeling in the calm bay, the ocean breezes cooling the warmth of the early morning, and the swaying palm trees.  An idyllic scene of beauty and tranquility.

Today, this place is a refuge from our busy, daily lives, but in the not-too-distant past, the journey to this location was a matter of life or death.  Breaking the Hawaiian code of conduct or law (kapu) meant death... unless you could reach one of these sanctuary sites.

Finding refuge allowed the individual to be safe... as long as they remained in the confines of the sanctuary.

Where is your place of refuge?
(Photo: Pu'uhonua o Honaunau,
Hawaii, Larry Gardepie)

The last two years have been a matter of life and death for many of us.  Our social networks have been stretched as injustices and inequities have come to light.  Some see government overreach; others experience safety in knowing how to protect loved ones and their community.  Stay-at-home orders isolated and confined us, but some noticed a calming effect as they were forced to slow down and retreat into life's basics.

Where is the refuge or sanctuary that will protect me... or us... when we no longer know how to balance individual and societal needs?

When do you comfort others?
(Photo credit:  Baby Blues, July 26, 2020,
Rick Kirkman and Jerry Scott)

Rather than seeking sanctuary -- looking for a personal place of solitude -- I wonder if we are being invited to become sanctuary for ourselves and others?

  • Am I able to set aside differences and see shared challenges?
  • Will I sit with the pain of injustice and accept that I have not noticed?
  • Can I work toward a broader understanding of common unity (community)?

How will you emerge from the pandemic?
(Photo: San Pedro Harbor and Channel, Larry Gardepie)

In essence, we have an active role and responsibility in re-creating norms as we emerge from these years of strife and division.  We can escape to our place of refuge or we can become a place of comfort and peace for others.  We can choose to argue or we can choose to come together.  The choice is ours, as individuals and a community, to to seek and become sanctuaries for safe dialogue.
May we become the sacred or holy place that people seek in moments of life or death.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, March 5, 2022

Questions Divided: Individual or Together?

Standing on the balcony of our stateroom, I watched the pilot boat inch closer and closer to our ship ready to offload the person who would guide us into port.  How interesting, I thought, as I caught the reflection of the pilot boat in the balcony's glass siding.  Knowing where I stood and the direction we were going, I knew which boat was real and which was the reflection.

But, I wondered, is life as simple?

  • How do we know what is real or based in facts and what is a reflection of our thoughts, opinions, or projections?
  • Are we willing to have a pilot -- a friend, a mentor, a spiritual director -- guide us into a port of broader understanding?

How do you determine what is true?
(Photo: Pilot Boat Reflection, Larry Gardepie)

The idea of reality and opinion -- fact and reflection -- continued over the next few days of our journey.  Entering an elevator one day, I noticed that two of us were standing on the daily floor mat:  today was Thursday, the mat stated.  I wondered if we could agree on this fact?

One day the floor mats had been changed out of all elevators... except one: that elevator had been off-line the previous day and the floor mat had not been changed -- it was the previous day's mat.  I wondered if people entering that one elevator would catch what happened... or would they carry that incorrect day with them, trying to convince others?

When can you stand on common ground?
(Photo: Elevator Floor Mat, Larry Gardepie)

How can we reach common ground in our knowledge, the information we receive, and our understanding of what we have learned?  It seems that questions like this can either divide us further or bring us together.

For me, the emphasis is on the relationship:

  • Do we want to stay in relationship with the other person?
  • Are we interested in or curious about the knowledge and facts they have gathered along their life's journey?
  • Can we ask questions that suspend our need to be right or prove the other person wrong?

Are you able to see the beauty in the moment?
(Photo:  Fiery Sunset at Sea, Larry Gardepie)

What I love about being on the ocean is the interplay between water and air, ocean and sky.  On clear days, cobalt ocean waters reflect the deep blue of the sky; on cloudy days, the waters are dark, grey and sometimes turbulent when it is windy.  What is awe-inspiring is the moment when the dark, cloudy days suddenly burst open with clouds on fire reflecting the relationship of sun, water and light.
Staying in relationship and working towards that moment of understanding is what dialogue is about.  Our discussions may not be as fiery as a sunset, but the ability to step back and notice what is happening is what is important.

This week, may we:
  • Distinguish between fact and reflection;
  • Question what we don't know or haven't experienced; and,
  • Seek guidance when we don't understand.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)