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

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