Saturday, March 30, 2024

Resurrecting Beauty

Besides the comics, I read the Letters to the Editor and Dear Abby every day.  These three ground me more in reality than "All the News That's Fit to Print."  The two letter-formats (Editor and Abby) help me to understand local concerns from one person's perspective and personal issues that people are encountering.  And the comics bring humor into my morning!

I find it difficult sometimes to absorb humanity and all of our struggles: the inability to forgive; the need for vengeance; and the desire to dominate others economically, culturally, and ideologically.

Sometimes I just don't understand...

How do you display your Inner Beauty?
(Photo - Amaryllis - Larry Gardepie)

Maybe that's why I retreat into gardening:

  • Planting and waiting.
  • Pruning and new growth.
  • Enjoying hard work and harvesting.

It's the simple acts that ground us in harmony and healing.

What is your role in Pollinating Goodness?
(Photo: Orange Blossoms and a
Honeybee - Larry Gardepie)

Is it any wonder that Spring and the Holy Days of Passover and Easter often coincide?  There are important lessons for us to learn:
  • Moving from the darkness and cold of Winter to the light and warmth of Spring.
  • Being liberated from slavery and passing over destruction.
  • Opening ourselves to a resurrected life and a Beauty Unknown.
It's our ability to co-create and bring life into this world that haunts us when we don't.

Where do you find your Resurrected Beauty?
(Photo: Calla Lilies - Larry Gardepie)

The challenges we face with Spring, Passover, and Easter is in our faith: our faith in nature, humanity, and our Creator.  That is:
  • Even in the depths of Winter, we wait for Spring.
  • Even in moments of human despair, we hope for deliverance.
  • Even in painful and deadly Fridays, we believe in the Sunday After.

Maybe when faced with unforgiveness, revenge, and oppression, we are invited to resurrect the beauty that is hidden in the soil of our lives... planting the seeds of forgiveness and goodness

Welcome Spring!  Happy Pesach!  Blessed Easter!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, March 23, 2024

Be Surprised!

Coming out of a restaurant last week with friends, we were caught off guard by a bright object racing across the sky.  We were near the airport, so some in our group thought it was a jet's contrail caught in the afterglow of the setting sun.  As we monitored the progress of this celestial body, we noticed pieces falling off!

It wasn't until I was home that I searched for recent launches from Vandenberg, the Air Force Base located almost 300 miles north of San Diego.  A Spacex Falcon 9 rocket had been launched at the time we were standing outside.

Has something unexpected happened in your life?
(Photo: Spacex Falcon 9 rocket from
Vandenberg AFB - Larry Gardepie)

It took a few minutes for the object to be out of sight and another 20 minutes for the contrail to disappear into the darkening night sky.  What remained?  I was transfixed by the timing and beauty of this unexpected sighting.

Being Surprised out of the Ordinariness of our lives is sometimes nice!  My friends and I stopped, watched, and wondered.  We talked about what we thought it might be, and we accepted the various options.  No one tried to convince the others:  we didn't know what we were seeing, so we listened and allowed curiosity to suspend our judgement.

What beauty have you encountered this week?
(Photo:  Cherry Blossoms - Larry Gardepie)

Like the various stages of the Falcon 9 rocket separating and falling away, being surprised opens us to possibilities by jettisoning routine behaviors and roles.

Being surprised can come in different forms:  later that same week, I was walking around my neighborhood with another friend.  We came across a beautiful, flowering tree.  We walk this route several times a week and had not noticed this tree.  But today it was magnificent!

Do you go out of your way to be surprised?
(Photo:  Blue Flowers - Larry Gardepie)

On another walk I saw a blue flower off the beaten path.  I was drawn to its unusual beauty, so I walked over to be closer.  I delayed my walk.  Time stopped.  I paid attention to its uniqueness, standing alone among the other plants.

I wonder:

  • How many times are we with a friend and don't pay attention to that person's beauty?
  • How many times do we have to be surprised into noticing the extraordinary ordinariness of life?
  • How often do our rote patterns hide what is present all along?

re we ready to be surprised this week?

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, March 16, 2024

Our Next Chapter

As my brothers, sisters and I were growing up, Mom would take us to the local branch library.  It became a Safe and Familiar place to discover different authors, writing styles, and storytelling.  Even when going on weeks-long road trips to visit our grandparents in Iowa, one of the pre-trip planning stops was the library to get a box of books to accompany us.  Maybe it was to keep us busy, but the lesson I learned was the joy of reading and the power of imagination.  (Years later I would work at that branch library as my first real job!)

These memories come to mind as I consider what is happening in our society today:  "the best of times" and the worst of times."

How would you describe "your time" right now?
(Photo credit:  Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens)

The Information Age has inundated us with countless sources and varieties of information.  We are now "entertained" with subtle and not-so-subtle messages in the programs and news sources we watch, the bombardment of advertisements, and the role social media plays in our daily lives.

It is unnerving when I pay attention to the attempts to manipulate my thoughts and feelings, swaying me one direction or another.  The information when presented one way stacks up against another... in simple soundbites that are meant to convince me of their truth.

Where are you getting your information?
(Photo credit:  Library Book Stacks Fabric, Spoonflower)

As unfiltered and unreflected ideas stack up in my subconscious, I notice an uneasiness at the separation I feel:  I no longer feel the safety and familiarity of my home library; I no longer feel Common Unity (community) with those around me.

The story telling and imagination have faded away as others influence what I should think or feel.

Is it the same with you?

Are you willing to rearrange your thought process?
(Photo credit:  Google download, Michigan Library)

George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans), a female English novelist, poet, journalist, and translator, once wrote:  "The strongest principle of growth lies in human choice."

What choices do you (we) need to make as we write the next chapters of our Life Story?  How can we reconnect with our sense of safety and familiarity in the communities we live?  Are we willing to share our stories and imagination with one another in a way that respects all of our Unfinished Stories?

The choice is ours -- in how we gather information, the way we check out our assumptions, and the decisions we make.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, March 9, 2024

Written or Not?

Science Fiction creates worlds that can only be imagined - whether Jules Vernes' Journey to the Center of the World or 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Arthur C. Clarke's 2001: A Space Odyssey or Andy Weir's The Martian.  Each book and movie explores humanity's journey, exploration, curiosity, and survival.

As I watched the first season of Star Trek: Picard, I was struck by the similarities and differences in this new series:  life had moved on for the well-known characters of Picard, Riker, Troi, Data, and Seven-of-Nine.  Their past experiences defined who they had become, but they were still seeking out what it meant to be human in community... and what it meant to sacrifice and be responsible for others.

What was it like when you truly saw yourself for the first time?
(Photo credit:  Earthrise, Astronaut William Anders,
December 1968)

At one point Picard tells Captain Chris Rios, “The past is written, but the future is left for us to write."  It was an invitation to continue, to stay connected, and to seek out what is good about life.

Growing up during "The Space Race," I was taken by the early photos  of our planet from space.  Humans had looked up at the Moon for centuries, but it wasn't until the 1960s that we actually saw Earth from the perspective of the Moon!

Where do you see separation with others?
(Photo credit:  Night Satellite of Africa and Europe,

The astronauts' brought to our attention -- and John Lennon asked us to imagine -- a planet without borders.  Our Distance Above provided a new perspective:  life past and present doesn't have to be the same in the future.

Yes, we are connected to our experiences and what has formed us, but as Elnor says in Star Trek: Picard:  "My friends, choose life!"  That is, we have a choice in what we write in our future!

How can you explore beauty?
(Photo credit:  Astronomy Picture of the Day - The Tarantula Zone,
NASA, March 8, 2024)

If anything, science fiction and space exploration have merged in this century:

  • Our curiosity seeks to understand our beginning (past).
  • Our imagination transforms fiction into reality (present).
  • Our hope explores better ways of being (future).

Whether we see ourselves for the first time or we realize we are sometimes disconnected by the borders we have created, we can always seek out the beauty within ourselves and others as we write future chapters of life together.

Maybe it is time for us to engage more fully in exploration and reflection on what is important to us and those we love.  Maybe it is time to identify the labels that separate us.  Maybe it is time to imagine and work towards a future that connects us to the beauty that exists.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, March 2, 2024

Finding the Familiar

Have you noticed when passing through an unfamiliar town or city you look for something you recognize?  There's something "at home" about seeing a McDonald's sign or other restaurants or stores that you know.  And then, if you go into one of these places, you expect the same menu and quality!

A friend described this behavior as normal: we want to connect with something recognizable or intimate; we want to identify and belong... even as we experience the uniqueness of these new surroundings.

What makes you feel like you belong?
~ ~ Click to enlarge:  notice the writing on the right ~ ~
(Photo:  McDonald's in Budapest, Hungary
- Larry Gardepie, 1999)

I've encountered this several times when traveling in Hungary (seeing a McDonald's French Fries holder on the street), in Tahiti (visiting a church), and countless other places near or far away from home.

Another example:  have you ever been in a situation at work where a new CEO, director, manager, or supervisor is hired and tries to replicate their successes from their previous place of employment?  It doesn't take long for the old to be replaced by the new!

Where do you feel safe?
(Photo: St. Andre Church, Raiatea, French Polynesia
- Larry Gardepie, 2023)

We draw on what is familiar, and we project it out into our world and onto others.  We try to find or create familiarity.  I guess this helps us feel grounded and safe.

Another example:  whenever in Honolulu, I try to visit Iolani Palace (the only palace on U.S. soil), go on a tour, or visit a museum that describes the Hawaiian culture.  There is a slowness about the Islands that allows me to slow down... and notice.  

Though the Hawaiians had their own system of royalty and "kapu" (taboos, rules), they adapted to Western dress, the Christian religion, and the European royalty model... in order to survive.

How do you adapt?
(Photo: Throne Room in Iolani Palace,
Honolulu, Hawaii - Larry Gardepie, 2023)

When we seek out the familiar or replicate what we know, I wonder, are we trying to survive in a scary World Unknown?  What would it be like to allow curiosity to take hold and experience the unfamiliar?  Could we learn about ourselves if we embraced what is unique and traditional... before we ask it to conform to us?

Maybe, as we enter this new month with all of its unknowns, we sit first with our uneasiness and describe to others what we are missing or needing... before we seek out or replicate what is familiar.  We might surprise ourselves at what we find!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)