Saturday, January 27, 2024

Breaking Away

Falling and Returning seem to be recurring themes in our physical world: leaves dying and falling from the trees; gravity pulling objects back to solid ground; glacier calving and ice shelves splintering as water returns to the ocean.

These thoughts came to mind as our ship cautiously moved among the icebergs and ice flows of the Antarctic Peninsula.  Magnificent... Inspiring... Awesome... these words didn't quite capture the Beauty Surrounding us as we were invited into Nature's Cycle of Life.

What words would describe the Beauty Surrounding you?
(Photo:  Antarctic Icebergs and Ice Flows - Larry Gardepie, 2023)

The biting winds and chilly waters could not dissuade us from the open decks as we took in the majestic wind-swept vistas.  Our ship's ice pilot and the research scientists shared with us what might be seen, and encouraged us to be observant, to wait, and to be patient.  Also, they impressed on us the importance of Respect (of the environment; of what we don't know; of icebergs that could damage our vessel).

For many of us, this was our first time in this part of the world.  Everything was new and exciting!  Their guidance added to our sense of Anticipation.

Are you a distant spectator in your relationships?
(Photo:  Antarctic Iceberg - Larry Gardepie, 2023)

I have always been introverted.  This aspect of my personality allows me to sit back and observe others and what is happening around me.  What I have discovered as I have practiced dialogue -- and sometimes, failed! -- is that Dialogue has its own life cycle.  It is not a spectator sport.

Yes, it is sometimes important to fall back, listen, and question my way of thinking... but it is equally important to return to the relationship and actively develop curiosity about what I do not know.  I must be willing to learn from others.

Do we respect what could hurt us?
(Photo: Passing alongside an Antarctic
Iceberg - Larry Gardepie, 2023)

Falling and Returning are aspects of Breaking Away from behaviors that separate us and respecting patterns that melt away our resistance.  Whether we are ready to admit it or not, we need one another... especially when we encounter complex problems.  Each of us has information to share:  without me or my information you may not succeed!

Questions to ask ourselves:

  • Do we want to see the Beauty Surrounding us... in the people we meet?
  • Are we willing to engage... by seeking out information that challenges us?
  • What are we able to contribute... that respects all perspectives?

Let us approach each situation this next week with a new mindset that excites us and helps us to anticipate falling, returning, and breaking away.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)



Saturday, January 20, 2024

Below the Surface

A large portion of an iceberg is below the surface (up to 90% according to the U.S. Geological Survey).  That statistic is one of those Jeopardy-esque bits of information that floats around my mind.  It became REAL to me, though, last month as our ship navigated cautiously around massive icebergs that sometimes dwarfed our ship.

Our onboard Ice Pilot explained to us Newbies that it is important to respect the icebergs: if you cannot pick them up, you stay away from them!

What do you respect?
(Photo: Antarctic Icebergs - Larry Gardepie, 2023)

Gazing out at these castoffs from the ice shelves and glaciers was other-worldly.  I had to remind myself that the Beauty Seen was only surface-level.  There was so much more to this object than what I could see:  there was a depth below the surface that could only be imagined.

At times we caught glimpses of what was below: the ocean waves brushing along the edges; the change in water color near the ice; the play of water, ice and light allowing us to see a few feet below.  How much more cannot be seen... unknown to us without assistance from navigation instruments that could read the depths?

Where do you find beauty?
(Photo: Antarctic Iceberg - several times larger
and longer than our ship - Larry Gardepie, 2023)

A few times our vessel crept close enough to see more:  the surface AND what was hidden.  This closeness sometimes seemed too dangerous, too intimate... especially with memories of the Titanic's fate on our minds!

At that instant I wondered about relationships and dialogue:

  • How much of another person do we actually see and experience?
  • What remains a mystery to us?
  • When do we invite closeness and share vulnerability?
  • When should we respect distance if a situation is too big to carry?

What is below your surface?
(Photo:  Antarctic Iceberg - Larry Gardepie, 2023)

As the icebergs drifted past and we moved on to other vistas, I reflected on the melting of these gigantics: how long would it take to become manageable?

I guess part of our inner work these days is to look at what we hide below our surface and how often we invite honest and vulnerable dialogue to melt the distance between us.

Just wondering:  how much is below your surface... 90%?... and how much do you reveal of yourself to others?

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, January 13, 2024

The Grandeur of Life

Studying geography in elementary and high schools, I could only dream of the many countries around the world.  To test our knowledge, we were given maps of continents and countries -- blank, except for the country boundaries -- and asked to name the countries and their capitals.  I wondered what those places were like:  the landscape, the people, their history, and cultures.

To add to this dreaming and wondering, I had a great grandmother who would travel with one of her friends.  She would mail postcards to my family from various locations.  I enjoyed reading and rereading her notes about her journey and looking at the beautiful pictures of faraway places.

What is on your bucket list?
(Photo: Antarctic Peninsula - Larry Gardepie, 2023)

I guess this is where my travel "bucket list" began: the dreaming, wondering, and curiosity of a young child, being influenced by teachers and family members.  Reading about and watching documentaries added to the knowledge, but the desire to travel is about something more:  it's about connection and belonging.

When I first glimpsed the approaching mountains of the Antarctic Peninsula last month, I was overwhelmed with the grandeur and beauty Only Imagined.  It's one thing to dream, study, and plan:  it's a different experience when you are fully present.

Where do you experience grandeur and awe?
(Photo: Antarctic Peninsula - Larry Gardepie, 2023)

Standing on deck of the ship, I connected my studies to my journey -- the desire to belong to Something Beyond.  And I realized that is what my dialogue journey has been about these past 10 years:  it is more than...

  • Studying and practicing dialogue skills.
  • Listening and trying to understand another perspective.
  • Noticing and becoming aware of what is happening.

It is about being Fully Present to the Grandeur and Awe of the people we encounter along this journey of life.

Who are your companions on Life's Journey?
(Photo:  Antarctic Peninsula - Larry Gardepie, 2023)

Yes, we can fill in the lines and boundaries that separate us... but can we identify what is important within those boundaries?  We can name the labels that we have given each other... but can we identify the human needs and desires that we share?  We can fulfill our individual bucket lists... but can we assist others in achieving their dreams?
I am learning that Dialogue is about becoming companions on this journey of connection and belonging:  we are called to seek out and be present to the Grandeur and Beauty in each person.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)



Saturday, January 6, 2024

Promises Arising

We are within the first week of a new year:  How are you doing?  Have you recovered from the holiday season... the travel, family gatherings, Christmas plays, concerts, and parties?  Are you tired or energized?  Did you make any resolutions... and how are you doing in your resolve?  What is your outlook on this new year... a Leap Year... a Presidential-Primaries-and-Election year... a Summer Olympics year?

So many questions... and hopes, dreams, desires, and promises for a Year Unwritten!

What beauty is rising in you today?
(Photo: Sunrise at Sea - Larry Gardepie)

It's like the sun rising each morning: if we are awake and look closely, we might see Beauty Changing before our eyes.  The palette of Colors Unending as the Painter-Creator reveals the New Day Rising before us.  Can we linger in these moments of awe and discovery?

As mentioned in earlier posts, we have a Choice in how we show up and how we respond.  Whether tired or energized, we are invited to Awaken... to Slow Down and Notice:

  • What is being said or unsaid;
  • How we respond or don't respond;
  • Whether we choose to stay in relationship or not.

The choices may be small or large at the best of times, but when we encounter dark moments, it is good to be reminded that we have the Freedom to Choose!

Can you rest in this beauty and be at peace?
(Photo: Sunrise near Nuuk, Greenland - Larry Gardepie)

I am reminded of people who have survived their darkest nights during World War II -- people like Elie Wiesel, Corrie ten Boom, and Viktor Frankl.  In their writings, we hear of the atrocities they encountered or suffered.  We also hear how faith, kindness, and human dignity informed their choices:  to survive, remember, forgive, and accept the pain and darkness.

Viktor Frankl shared the following insights:

"When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves."

"Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms -- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."

He also describes a space that exists between stimulus and response.  "In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom."

Will you see light streaming beyond any darkness?
(Photo: French Polynesian Sunrise - Larry Gardepie)

This is why slowing down and noticing are so important in dialogue practices and in relationships:  The Pause provides the space to choose!

The message I am considering during these New Born days of 2024 is the importance of protecting the freedom of choice -- for myself and others.  I assume that many of us see and experience life differently due to our cultures, upbringing, faith and religion, politics, and many other ways.

What choices will you make this year?
(Photo credit: Mandy Hale, Victory Community)

My prayer and hope is that we can listen and learn from these varied experiences... and choose to keep an open mind.  The invitation is to live honestly and authentically according to the values and truths that we were taught and have accepted.  The challenge is to honor our experiences and truths while respecting those of others.

It is possible!  Remember, we have a choice!
What are your thoughts about this New Year?

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)