Saturday, February 24, 2024

The Power of the Snowflake

Do you remember learning as a child that no two snowflakes are alike?  There is a beauty in seeing and trying to understand Uniqueness.  But these lessons of infinite design and individuality are often tested against the reality of life cycles.

Travels to Alaska, Greenland, and Antarctica have helped me to see the Power of the Snowflake.  Glaciers are formed by snowfall at higher elevations:  the weight of the snow compresses into glaciers, living rivers of ice that flow down the mountain slopes.  Then, when the glacier's edge reaches a body of water, sections of the ice break off -- returning the snowflake that fell hundreds of years ago back to its watery origins... beginning the cycle again: snowflake, compressed snow to ice, movement downhill to meet a body of water, and its return home.

What makes you unique?
(Photo credit:  Snowflake Photographs,

The journey of the snowflake is reflected in our lives as well:

  • How do we recognize our uniqueness?
  • What challenges compress and shape our movement through life?
  • When do we acknowledge we are home, we are one with others?

The power of the snowflake, therefore, is in the movement and balance between Individuality and Wholeness.

Are you aware of being part of something larger?
(Photo: Antarctica Glaciers - Larry Gardepie, 2023)

What I have noticed with glaciers is that we must look closely at what is happening now around the glacier:  ice falling off; water dripping; a river of water emerging underneath the ice; icebergs or growlers drifting away.  The original snowflakes fell centuries ago, so it is our current awareness that allows us to understand the movement... THEN and NOW.
The same might be said of us:  we may not notice all of the changes occurring, but the falling off of old ideas, the melting of cold relationships, and becoming aware of what surrounds us could invite us to reflect on the long term effect of our lives.  Are we moving towards individuality or coming home to something larger?

Can you allow cold relationships to thaw?
(Photo: Antarctica Icebergs - Larry Gardepie, 2023)

The beauty of life is in its balance:  the acceptance of our individuality AND the power that draws us to join others -- to move towards wholeness!
As we journey through these final wintry weeks and begin to glimpse the spring thaw, may we:
  • Share our uniqueness;
  • Notice when we are being drawn together; and,
  • Invite reflection on the power of Both.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)


Saturday, February 17, 2024

Gooder Than I Thought

I assume I know the answer to the following question... but I thought I would ask:

Do you ever doubt yourself?

I do!  And that's why I wanted to ask the question:  I wondered if I am the only one that doubts decisions I have made or actions I have taken; questions why I got myself involved in another project; or rethinks why I said what I said to another person.

My assumption is that we all have Little Nigglings of doubt from time to time... lying awake at night... and wondering.

Do you ever wonder how good you are?
~ ~ Click on image to enlarge ~ ~

(Photo credit:  Family Circus, Bil & Jeff Keane, 12/25/23)

As these thoughts swirl around and begin to take on a life of their own, I wonder... Isn't there a better way?  Assuming that we all have doubts at one time or another, what would life be like if we:

  • Surfaced and reflected on our struggles;
  • Shared our thoughts with others; and
  • Allowed ourselves to be less perfect and more human.

What causes you to doubt yourself?
(Photo credit:  Self-Doubt, Shutterstock)

Noticing "nigglings" is one thing.  But, when self-doubt takes on a life of its own and undermines self-image and self-confidence, there may be a problem!  That's where noticing becomes even more important:
  • Is this doubt hurting me or others... essentially, separating us?
  • Can I move into a non-violent way of talking, sharing, and understanding?
That is, when I listen to and surface the self-doubt, I oftentimes find out the situation isn't as bad as I thought.  Bouncing off doubts, worries, and ideas connects us!

(Photo credit:  Finding Freedom from Fear and
Silencing Self-Doubt
, Mike Foster)

Knowing that you and others sometimes doubt yourselves opens the door to changing how we respond to one another.  It may be as simple as removing the "t" from "can't":
  • I can't believe in myself and decisions I have made -- OR -- I can believe.
  • I can't listen to you -- OR -- I can listen.
  • I can't understand your way of thinking -- OR -- we can get along.
Doubt and self-doubt may be a way for us to understand separation.  I am confident that we -- together -- can figure out a way to say, "We are gooder than we thought."

What do you think?

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, February 10, 2024

Habits of the Mind

Going through childhood photos, I came across the 1967-1968 faculty picture from my elementary school years.  Besides recognizing most of the teachers, I noticed how the clothes easily identified the Priests and Religious Sisters. The black clerical shirts of the priests and the wimples (modest head coverings) and habits of our teaching Sisters set them apart from the rest of the adults in our lives.

Habits tend to do that:  when behavior patterns are followed regularly, they become almost voluntary and distinguish us from others around us.

What sets you apart from others?
(Photo: Madonna del Sasso School - Faculty 1967-1968)

These early memories and the topic of habits swirled in my head this week:  wondering what habits I have taken on, which distinguish me from my friends and family, and are some almost voluntary?

We sometimes hear that it takes 21 days to change a habit:  the willingness to learn and relearn; the ability to master a new way of being; and the transition into an ease or involuntary behavior.  What habits are you willing to remaster and transition away from?

Which of your "small habits" produce huge results?
~ ~ Click on image to enlarge ~ ~
(Photo credit: Small Habits - Facebook download)

I have to admit, I am tired of the negativity and critical nature of our world right now.  There are MANY good things happening around us, but these stories tend to be drowned out by sensational news cycles that focus on doom, destruction, and chaos.  Sometimes I feel helpless in combating the direction our society is going.

Maybe that's why I am focused on habits this week:

  • What am I contributing towards the common good and well-being of others?
  • How might I show acts of compassion and kindness?
  • Can I learn and relearn new Ways of Being in this world?

How do you make the world a better place?
~ ~ Click on image to enlarge ~ ~

(Photo credit:  Results of Kindness - Facebook download)

Many of us have heard or been exposed to the concepts of Ash Wednesday and Lent -- either through church practices or Mardi Gras/Carnival/Carnivale celebrations.  Beginning on Ash Wednesday, people tend to give up something during these 40 days of Lent.
What would it be like if we collectively focused on adding in acts of kindness, showing goodwill, and being generous of spirit towards others for the next six weeks?  Just think of the positive energy that would be generated!
Rather than focusing on the results of Super Tuesday and March Madness, maybe we could celebrate Habits of the Mind that contribute to kindness and compassion!
Just wondering...  what do you think?

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, February 3, 2024

We are the Weavers

Have you ever wondered how things are made or how they work?  Like many children, I was one who focused on the "why"... like, why did lights turn on when plugged in.  To experiment, one time I stuck a metal object into a socket and got quite a shock!  Another time I took the thermometer and placed it near the bathroom heater to watch the mercury rise.  (Mom, in another room, was used to asking, "What are you doing in there?" and I would yell back "Nothing!")

I flourished when I could explore and be creative -- putting together model cars and ships; using balsa wood to make planes that would fly; creating a homemade kite and figuring out the best designs; interweaving different colored string into intricate macrame designs.

Later in life, my grandmother passed along her crochet skills.  Oftentimes, I begin with a pattern so I can understand how it works, and then I let loose and create my own designs.

Do you notice what happens behind the scenes?
(Photo: Local Weaver, La Paz, Baja California Sur -
Larry Gardepie, 2021)

I guess it is no surprise where my career path has taken me:  teaching, ministry, human resources, project and change management, and software design.  I am intrigued by the sciences of process and design and the art of understanding.  I love to troubleshoot -- not necessarily to find solutions, but to be engaged in ways that support and find meaning.

What patterns do you see in your relationships?
(Photo: Rock Wall, Tintagel Village, Cornwall, England -
Larry Gardepie, 2017)

I came across a British drama series recently, "Call the Midwife."  Such a caring and wise display of human life:  women and men working for the good of others.  At the beginning of each show, the voice of a wizened Sister-Nurse poetically offers a view of human interaction that sets the theme for the show.  At the end of the show, the same voice pulls together the lessons the story offered.

One episode ended with the observation that "We are the weavers of each other's cloth."  What a beautiful way of describing our interconnectedness!

Where is life holy?
(Photo: Stained Glass Window of Local Workers -
St. Magnus' Church, Lerwick, Shetland Islands - Larry Gardepie 2011)

Part of my "travel bug" is the desire to experience, connect, and understand.  Watching a weaver work in England, I wanted to see what the tapestry looked from behind (what is hidden) as well as the front (what is seen).  Coming across a rock wall in Cornwall, I was intrigued by the strength and the fragile natures of how the stones were arranged: no mortar or cement to hold it together, just the weight of what was before and after.  Being drawn to the beautiful colors of stained-glass windows in the Shetlands, I realized that the images were of the local workers that make daily life holy.

Can you see connections that support?
(Photo: Ceiling of Bath Abbey, Bath, England -
Larry Gardepie, 2011)

And, standing below the vaulted ceiling of the Abbey Church in Bath, England, I took in the intricate design that rose 75 feet above us.  To think that builders began construction in 1499 knowing they would not see their dreams come true!

Questions for this week:

  • What patterns do I weave into other people's lives:  kindness, caring, and love or fear, frustration, and anger?
  • When do I feel interconnected with others?
  • Am I interested in knowing what is hidden... and why?

 May we take seriously the Holy Weaving in each other's cloth!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)