Saturday, October 28, 2023

All Hallows Within

Autumn is a time of change: moving from a season of growth and activity to a season of harvest and slowing down.  In many places, you can feel and see the change... in the crispness of the air, the colors of nature, fall sports, and the clothes people wear.  

Change... a time for reflection.

What have you harvested this season?
(Photo: Autumn Scene, Old Town San Diego
- Larry Gardepie)

In ancient Celtic times, people would dress up in costumes and dance around bonfires to ward off ghosts and evil spirits.  As the Christian faith spread, these pagan rituals were adapted into holy days of remembrance -- remembering those who have gone before us, the Saints and Souls of our Holy Ones. 

It was a reminder of "all hallows": seeing and celebrating goodness; a reminder that all people have Sacred Worth and Value.

How do you celebrate your goodness?
(Photo: Halloween Decorations, Encinitas, California - Larry Gardepie)

But I have to admit, it is sometimes difficult to see the goodness in others!  Our news, movies, TV programs, and stories are built around those ghosts and evil spirits that also inhabit us -- the Good-and-Evil, Win-or-Lose struggle that we encounter every day.  It's as if we have to point to someone else for creating the mess we find ourselves experiencing:  "The Other" who hurt us and continues to cause us pain.

I wonder:  could we use this seasonal transition to reflect on the Sacred-that-We-Encounter -- even in those people who may have wronged us?

Can you build an Altar of Hope?
(Photo: Día de los Muertos altar, Old Town San Diego - Larry Gardepie)

One way of celebrating All Hallows is through
Día de los Muertos altars.  Watching people build their family's altar, I have noticed the reverence and respect accorded deceased members.  Yes, death is present, but the focus is on the goodness of the ancestors who gave life and hope to current family members.  It's a celebration of life and the sacrifices made for one another.

Who would you honor in your altar?  What stories of goodness would you share?  How would you experience the Sacred in your midst?

I wonder:  is it time to build an Altar of Hope?

All Hallows to you!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, October 21, 2023

What We Don't See

Each day I am faced with another situation (or two or three...!) where I thought I understood or had things figured out... only to find out that I had jumped to conclusions!  Something that looked straightforward... wasn't.  Or, I didn't have all of the information... and filled in the blanks, incorrectly.

I love mystery and suspense novels where the author changes course at the very end and the last few chapters reveal a different outcome than expected.  The "who done it" ends up being simpler than the complicated conclusions I had constructed.

But, does life have to be this way all the time where I anticipate conclusions that never happen?

Could there be more than one explanation?
~ ~ Click on image to enlarge ~ ~
(Photo Credit:  Beetle Baily, Greg and Mort Walker, 10/21/23)

These thoughts surfaced recently when I came across a beautiful atrium where the walls were covered with gold-tinted, beveled cut glass.  The walls reflected hundreds of angles of the same lobby but from unique perspectives.  And, when standing in certain locations, the opposing mirrors displayed infinite images moving further away.

I was reminded that where I stand in this moment provides a different view and perspective than if I were to change my position.

Is this true, then, with life in general:  if I were to change my position, would I see an issue differently?

What do you see from where you are standing?
(Photo: Mirrored Wall Reflecting All Angles - Larry Gardepie)

Another special feature of this atrium was the glass staircases:  the sides and the flooring of the spiral stairs were glass.  At first, it was disorienting to walk up or down:  you could see where you were going... straight down!  Arriving at the top of this three-story atrium, I looked down to view the glass stairs, gold-tinted walls, and the lounge area: I was looking at an Eye!

I wonder:  is it a matter of paying attention to where we are going that we are able to see more clearly?

When do you not see what is before you?
(Photo: the Eye of ms Noordam Atrium - Larry Gardepie

Paying attention?  Changing positions?  Seeing more clearly? 

Maybe there's more to life than the way I see it.  Maybe it's a matter of moving beyond the self-reflected images I have of myself.  Maybe it's a matter of staying open to other views.

And maybe this week, it's a matter of waiting for the Author of Life to reveal a different outcome in the next chapter of my life.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, October 14, 2023

Choice Points

Remember back in high school math and science classes when we were learning about formulas, memorizing and exploring theories, and conducting cause-and-effect experiments?  What I recall is the sense of discovery and exploration: what is true and known versus what might be and needs to be tested.

I was soon bored by the predictable, structured experiments because we already knew the results as we poured one chemical into another.  But, the What Ifs intrigued me!

Do you know the outcomes of the decisions you are making?
(Photo credit:  Chain Reaction Definition
in Chemistry and Physics
, ThoughtCo)

That is, what would happen if we did it differently?  Yes, we could predict the outcome based on the knowledge we already possessed... but "What If" beyond the structure encouraged us to test and learn about the Unknown!

This memory came to mind when a friend told me about a workshop she attended with business school academics and economists.  The guest lecturer was presenting another way of looking at business when asked, "Are you saying business models we have been teaching are incorrect?"  The presenter responded with a "Yes" and then explained that the original business assumptions were based on self-interest and competition and not on human shared social aspects of collaboration and trust.

How much time do you take to make a choice?
(Photo credit: The Two Ways Tradition, Cheryl Mason)

I wonder:

  • What assumptions have I made about other peoples and cultures?
  • Do these assumptions create misunderstandings in how I see their customs, experiences, and ways of living?
  • Am I willing to pause, test my assumptions, and be willing to experiment with new ideas?
We encounter many choices every day -- Choice Points -- in whether we react predictably to what we see and hear or whether we pause-test-respond in a new and "pro-social" Way of Being.

Do you believe that you have a choice?
(Photo credit:  Your Choice Makes a Difference,
Susan Gunn Solutions)

When encountering another person or making decisions about our relationship to our world, the choice is ours!  It's a matter of moving from our Cause-Effect rote-action and making choices that will move beyond self-interest to collaboration and trust.
This takes reflection and dialogue -- the ability to look inward at our needs and wants as we face outward to the needs and wants of others.
What choices will I -- we -- make this week?

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, October 7, 2023

Wraps Uncovered

Many of the downtown buildings in San Diego are "wrapped" with advertisements leading up to and during Comic-Con International.  Mind you, the city has laws against building-wrap advertisements!

The local news revealed how lucrative this type of advertising is:  the hotels and businesses make far more money in advertising Hollywood blockbusters than the city's fines!  In addition, the city doesn't enforce this law because it wants the businesses, tourists, and conference attendees to have a good experience of San Diego.

I am reminded of something that happened several years ago.  Driving with a younger relative, he made a U-turn in an area where the signage said, "No U-turn."  The reply when I looked over:  "It's okay until you get caught."

Are there certain things you do... no matter what?
(Photo: Marriott Marquis and Marina,
San Diego - Larry Gardepie)

I am not placing a value or making a statement about either of these situations.  Rather, I find it interesting how we describe our society as "Law and Order" yet choose which rules or laws we will follow... and then rationalize our actions based on our belief systems.

The gap between Espoused and Actual Values is sometimes far apart!  We decide individually whether the consequences are worth the risks... no matter the impact on others or society.

When do we stand against violence?
(Photo:  "Comfort Women" Column of Strength,
San Francisco - Larry Gardepie)

There are so many examples in our society where we are inconsistent:

  • We teach driver safety... but we are distracted by our mobile devices, and we drive above the speed limit.
  • We talk about dignity and respect for each person... but we do not stand against violence in our homes and neighborhoods.
  • We agree about the importance of safe environments... but we do not protect our children and vulnerable against crimes.

Where do we find beauty and hope?
(Photo: Hanging Cranes, San Diego
International Airport - Larry Gardepie)

What happens when our espoused and actual values stay separated?  The words (or wraps) we have placed around ourselves are seen for what they actually are:  they are only there as outward show.  The core of who we are and who we want to become need to be unwrapped!  Through questions, dialogue, and listening, we can unwrap what is inside -- our innermost thoughts and desires!

Then, the hard work begins:

  • What do we do to support one another?
  • How do we work toward an integrated personal life?
  • Are we willing to live in relationship with others?

Let's begin this week:

  • What inconsistencies do you struggle with?
  • How do you experience your Column of Strength?
  • Where can I be of help?

And maybe more importantly, I need YOUR help!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)