Every Question Mark is now a Stop Sign?

Hello there…

Here’s a new insight.  As I was studying the Christian Science Bible Lesson, I realized there are often times when there is a question to be read –either in the Bible or in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (by Mary Baker Eddy).  Usually, I just breeze on by and treat the question as a normal part of the text.

But guess what?

It’s a question.  Try answering it.

That’s why now whenever I come to a question mark, I treat it as a stop sign.  Stop.  Take a moment. Consider.  And,….answer.  I realize you and I may not always know the answer, but we can discover that much too.

Eddy asks us, ‘Have you ever imagined John’s heavenly city people with diving beings?”  That’s not just rhetorical.  Ask yourself – what is that like?  Living with divine beings all around you?

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Disasters Big and Small…

Our nation is reeling after the mass shooting in Las Vegas (or the forest fires, or the hurricanes…it seems to go on and on) At the same time, individually, someone may be mourning the death of a loved one, from crime, disease, or accident, perhaps even relationship disasters like divorce or break-ups.  The scale may be different, but the challenge to our hearts similar.

So, how to think now?  How to feel now?

We have to listen, not talk.  We have to receive wisdom — we have to be open-hearted right now.  We have to find moments of still peace…

Mary Baker Eddy said that: “Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need.”  Today our need is to feel that Diving Love acting in our lives, individually and collectively.  She also said, “Remember, thou canst be brought into no condition, be it ever so severe, where Love has not been before thee and where its tender lesson is not awaiting thee. Therefore despair not nor murmur, for that which seeketh to save, to heal, and to deliver, will guide thee, if thou seekest this guidance.”

Her human life was not a bed of roses.  She suffered many personal losses.  Yet, seeing through the sadness, seeing through to spiritual reality, she could with confidence write:

“There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter. All is infinite Mind, and its infinite manifestation, for God is All in All. Spirit is immortal Truth; Matter is mortal error.”


I Kings 19: 9-15

The Lord Speaks to Elijah at Horebelijahathoreb1kings19-11

9And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah? 10And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.

11And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: 12And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. 13And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah? 14And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.

15And the LORD said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria: 16And Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room. 17And it shall come to pass, that him that escapeth the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay: and him that escapeth from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay. 18Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.


I also recommend this post from the Christian Science Sentinel written after the nuclear disaster in Japan:  Continuing prayer for Japan By Kazuhiko Kaneda From the Christian Science Sentinel – May 11, 2011

Coming out of the wilderness…

I haven’t shared in oh so long —  I have been in a bit of a wilderness spiritually.  Sometimes I share those long moments when the days drag by and the inspiration lags, mostly I don’t.  It’s doesn’t do me well to broadcast it, and only serves to keep me stilted.

Today, I am thinking of Easter next week… I am thinking of how Moses led his people out of the wilderness – after wandering there with them for 40-years (see my post “40 Years with a Friend of God?“).  I am thinking of Jesus now – and those paintings of shepherds which lead their sheep from behind.  Christ Jesus is known as ‘the good shepherd’.  This painting shown above is one that hung over my piano as a girl.  It resides deep in my soul today.  It implanted the idea that we are led by behind too.

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The Shepherd

That’s a little how it feels to me personally this time.  I returned to Portland these last nine months to complete my Masters Degree.  I now have it:  MS ETM, Engineering and Technology Management from Portland State University Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science. What to do with it though?

I feel led from behind.  I think God is behind me prodding me forward.  While I am not sure what’s to come, I feel safe, secure, confident.  My shepherd is there pushing me forward to new valleys with verdant fields.  I return to Michigan right after Easter grateful for all that’s been accomplished and the new friends, domestic and international, I’ve made while at Portland State!

In keeping with the new management degree, here’s a lovely business article by Sophie Johnson relating to leadership from behind and the kind of creative success possible with this style of leadership.  I have always loved the idea that the true leader is one who cares for her people, washing their feet so to speak…and I want to share this model with you too.  It shows that business can be influenced by spirituality ~


Link: http://smallbusiness.chron.com/theory-leading-behind-76457.html

The Theory of Leading From Behind

by Sophie Johnson

A manager who leads from behind emphasizes employees.

A manager who leads from behind emphasizes employees.

The theory of leading from behind is one proposed and championed by Linda Hill of the Harvard Business School. The professor had the idea when reading Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, in which he likens leaders to shepherds directing flocks from behind. Some sheep will move ahead, the flock following these trailblazers, but actually, it is the shepherd who oversees the flock. Hill says that today’s business climate requires leaders who act similarly, allowing their charges to emerge, lead and innovate. The manager, meanwhile, supports these initiatives, yet stays ever mindful of the bigger picture and direction.

Servant Leadership Style

Of the different styles of leadership, a leader who leads from behind is behaving as a servant leader. Servant leaders see to the needs of the team, which helps create the conditions that allows individuals to shine, making the best use of themselves and available resources. The servant leader also sets a powerful behavioral example, which affects company culture. Strong ethics, integrity and generosity set the tone for employees, creating a supportive environment within which each member can contribute her best.

Climate Of Innovation

When a manager applies the lead-from-behind model appropriately, an employee group primed to see and make use of opportunity can meet different business circumstances. Operating in a particular environment at a particular time, one or more members will be inspired and innovative. Different circumstances will inspire different group members. The process is ongoing, so that innovation becomes part of the company’s culture. In such companies, brilliant ideas don’t depend nourishing and supporting a single visionary but on every member contributing at various times. Hill calls this collective genius and says that companies of the future must foster and rely on it.

Proper Organizational Environment

The sense of employee empowerment, support and innovation that leading from behind promotes may be hard to achieve within the traditional organizational structure that most small businesses adopt. The traditional structure relies on procedures and management control, and workers functioning within specific, well-defined roles. Though department managers may be able to adapt the servant approach to their respective areas, a small-business owner who wants to encourage leading from behind may be better served by a looser structure such as the team structure. This structure creates employee teams that take charge of projects and goals.  It promotes innovation and employee initiative.

A Modern Style

Hill points out that businesses are increasingly interdependent, requiring leaders who can bring collaborative skills to the table. The small-business owner creating partnerships with other businesses, including international alliances, might be well-served by managers who employ the lead-from-behind approach, since it includes the ability to generously share power. Additionally, since leading from behind promotes cooperative initiatives from within teams, this style of leadership can be a good fit for businesses dedicated to working for the common good — community service organizations, for instance.

 

 

Can Love blanket the world?

We finally got our snow here in Northern Michigan…first, a few stray hard flakes, the kind that hit hard…then overnight, more. Now just the tallest grasses are visible. As we approach our Christmas holiday here in the United States, it occurs to me, that perhaps love can act like snow… blanketing the world.

I had just had a chat with someone at the little restaurant I frequent here in Charlevoix. She is estranged from one of her sons. Hard feelings exist on both sides. Some of the reasons for separation seemed justified. But I encouraged her to keep the idea of reconciliation and love active in her thoughts and to act from that same standpoint. One never knows at what point the way will open, …but always be open to it.

Then, looking outside at our first snowfall, I could see the perfect analogy for the way love works sometimes. If love can come in a steady, constant flow (which is exactly how God’s love works), we can see our world, our life, blanketed with that same love (like fresh snow on the lawn). Both humanly and spiritually –there need be no separation, we can see the love and protection of God’s love active in our own lives.

I like that.

So any situation we face, individually and collectively, we can apply this idea. Even hard-hearted conflicts and violent terrorist acts can be covered by God’s love. THAT should be our first thought when we are hit by bad news, not fear, but that God’s love covers all like a fresh new-fallen snow.

Years ago, my husband and I were estranged, separated. It was a very difficult time…but one of great growth too. There was a lot of prayer, and the support of Christian Science practitioners too.

It was when, one day, I realized that I loved my husband, as a fact, as a truth about me (like 2+2=4), …that healing and reconciliation began. No matter what behavior or reaction I was seeing, I KNEW, it didn’t alter that fact. My love for him was a fact. That freed me to respond according to that fact and be my best self as well. This led to great healing in our marriage.

If we knew that the love we have for the world were similarly, a fact: A truth about us, we could see that same love blanketing the world. This same blanketing love covers our ‘enemies’ –whom we are charged with loving by Christ Jesus. The same love inspires the Christly direction to “forgive 70 times 7”, –forgiving so thoroughly that there is nothing left to forgive because the love is so complete.

Complete love! Now that’s a Christmas concept worth thinking about. A love so complete, it must be God.

GOD is LOVE. MERRY Christmas to you, and the wide-world too.

 

Copyright held by Alexis Wittman

 

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Smoke on the Water Cafe, Charlevoix, Michigan  

Sometimes

Sometimes

My heart wants

To burst from

Love…

It seeps out

and even radiates

Within range.

It’s a happy sort of

Love — almost bubbly.

What’s changed?

An hour ago I

Might have sat

In dispare, or

A kind of grief?

Well, you know —

God entered in

I turned ever

so slightly in her

Direction — and

Bamb!

Love overtook me.

–Love is all

 

July, 2015 .

Copyright held by Alexis Wittman

Enthusiasm does not know age–

Quick insight to share….

I was leaving the office early, just a few days after Christmas. It was my son’s birthday and I had some things to finish up before having friends and family over to celebrate. My computer was being upgraded, and I couldn’t really work without a CPU on my desk. I am an architectural designer for a large firm, here, in Portland.

I felt especially gleeful. I exuded enthusiasm as I said goodbye to coworkers and receptionists. Then, it hit me.

Enthusiasm doesn’t know age!

These office friends were seeing ME as enthusiastic, happy. And, that’s what they responded to… not to my size or shape, or how slow I walked, but just to the enthusiasm. I walked out with enthusiasm, at a normal, pace.

We are ‘made of qualities’, really.

The same rule could be said of joy, honesty, loyalty, hope, confidence, caring,… none of these know age. Whether three years old or three-times-thirty– If we ‘live out’ of these qualities there really is nothing for age to attach to. We are ageless. We are full and overflowing of God.

I learned this as a little girl from my parents, from my wonderful Christian Science Sunday School teachers ((forever grateful)) and again, in Christian Science Class Instruction… this time, an Angel whispered in my ear.

“Enthusiasm does not know age”.

Play with it some:

Joy does not know age. Courage does not know age. Strength does not know age….

Joy does not ‘know’ pain. Courage does not know fear. Strength does not know lack. Love does not know disease….

The permutations of this concept are infinite, are Life itself.

God IS good… in Him, we live and move and have our being. “Become conscious for a single moment that Life and intelligence are purely spiritual, —neither in nor of matter, — and the body will then utter no complaints.” Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scripture.

Love to you right now.

Tiny flower

Tiny flower

 

Copyright held by Alexis Wittman

Quick update–

After a lot of very supportive prayer — my own and others, I have a job for the summer working for CH2M Hill.  It’s a great company and right next door to Portland State University where my graduate classes take place evenings.  Couldn’t be better –… well, it could, and continues to unfold in an upword direction.  I want to encourage anyone in the same situation of long term unemployment…. hang in there and look up!

 

Copyright held by Alexis Wittman

Planting Seeds

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JoLa café, on SW Corbett Ave. Portland, OR

Sometimes you need to read your own ‘sh*t’. ‘Know what I mean?

I’m in a period where I feel more fear (money related) after an extended period of being in grad school and without professional work… While I know the practical steps to finding a job, nothing is working. I applied to about 20 jobs yesterday, from senior manager, project architect, office manager, to receptionist. This flurry of applications has not been successful. I am not on top of my best self, but struggling to keep above the flood.  So just going back over my post about joy… you know, ‘Your joy, no man taketh from you’ helped remind me of the real goal: expressing good, finding more of God reflecting in and around me.

Sitting at a communal table with the ‘laptop-set’ at JoLa Café here in Portland, I am overhearing two women. They are in circumstances similar to me. Older, laid off, one in tears because the way ahead seems so dark.  The other leading the conversation with some tips for setting up a consultancy. It’s obviously a great example of networking.  I am not alone.  It seems that many older workers have become too expensive to hire, unhip, and too uncool. Waves of gray – hitting the wall!

What to do? What to do?

Seek refuge. Seek safety. Seek God. (If you are one who doesn’t naturally think in terms of a power outside yourself, stay with me).

Take a virtual breath. Look up and around yourself. What’s going on here? What’s percolating? What’s trying to emerge? It’s ok.

I have to remind myself how ‘this’ works… first the grain, then the fruit.

The ‘work’ is to see God clearly, love good dearly, … (I know, I know, amazingly similar to the song  ‘Day by Day’ in Godspell, the Stephen Schwartz  musical.) Finding ourselves– spiritually, lays the groundwork to find ourselves a job too. Somewhere, and I can’t find the quote… but it says something to the effect: ‘What God has fixed in heaven, shall be fixed on earth’. I DO know Christ Jesus asked us to pray/think: ‘As in heaven, so on earth.’ Our work is complete, whole, fun, perfectly suited to us WHEN we find it in heaven first.

Our practice may be architecture, law, engineering, education or business…. but the work begins by first turning humbly to God for inspiration. Making meditation and prayer a priority in our lives will create a shift. A shift which moves circumstances into place so that everyone benefits. Trust this.

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering (patience), gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law”. GALLATIONS 5:22-23.

En route back to Portland, Pix by Alexis

En route back to Portland, Pix by Alexis

 

 

 

 

Copyright held by Alexis Wittman

 

 

 

 

 

40 Years with a Friend of God?

I’ve been thinking a lot about Moses lately…. I know, he seems rather ‘old school’, old testament, old news, right?  You all remember the story of the exodus of the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt; they spend 40 years ‘wandering’ in the desert ….following Moses.  We get the impression that this is a fruitless time. Perhaps truly frustrating for those escaping slavery– looking for home.  A hard, difficult time.

 

But think about this, really… This thought hit me the other day —

 

Wouldn’t you willingly spend 40 years following a man who saw God ‘face to face’?

 

A 40 year pilgrimage- a lifetime with a prophet; one who brings truth to the people.  Wouldn’t this ultimately be a fruitful 40 years? Certainly, being led through the wilderness by a pillar of fire by night, and a column of smoke by day, finding manna each day in sustenance, were some of the many proofs of God’s care for the Hebrew people.  But most of all, God spoke to Moses, their leader, their liberator, with the intimacy and truth, as friend speaks to friend.

 

And the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend.  [Exodus 33:11]

With him I speak face to face, clearly and not in riddles; he sees the form of the LORD. [Numbers 12:8]

Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face,.. [Deuteronomy 34:10]

They saw that his face was radiant.  [Exodus 34:35]

 

I don’t always take the time, or presence, to speak with God in this way. Do you?   My face doesn’t shine like that – for sure.  (Once in while, there’s maybe a little glow.)  Daily life enters in.  There seems to be a promised land to find.  But right there, right now Truth Is.  And, God is always calling you in….in to His Life.

At my coffee shop early this morning a group of young pastors bows their heads in prayer to speak to Jesus.  They bring themselves into the circle of prayer.  They humble themselves to hear what Spirit says back.

40 years – in the company of one who has that daily intimacy?  Well, worth a lifetime’s worth– if we also respond to that call, listen to the Truth around us.  Even in the coffee shop!

2013 - August in NP artwork and assorted events 013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright held by Alexis Wittman