Called to Irrelevance

Thank you, Darla - the book you so graciously sent me has been an inspiration.

As a Christian in business my feet often reside in two worlds. In one, the message I receive is to be overly confident, assertive, and project an image that conveys not just professionalism, but power. In this other world, where my foot is planted joyously on a path of following Christ, I am told almost the complete opposite. Not only am I to be humble, but I am to mold my heart to that of a servant, to fall on my knees with basin and towels and reverently wash the feet of my fellow human beings. What kind of business person is that?

That is a person in business who makes himself irrelevant. It means caring more about the customer’s needs than whether you will profit. It means sending someone to a competitor if they have exactly what the customer requires, instead of trying to make your own product fit. It means standing out there in the world emotionally title-less, because you might start feeling that title metamorphosing into a crown upon your head, and it’s hard to bend down and listen to people with something that heavy on your brow.

Many years ago I sat one afternoon at a friend’s cottage, visiting with his father, a man old and wizened, and semi-crippled by arthritis. With some prodding, Mr. Lundahl told me a little bit about his life. He had founded the photo intelligence unit of the CIA, and was also the one responsible for finding the missiles in Cuba that led to the Cuban Missile Crisis during the Kennedy administration. His sensitive government work opened up an amazing world of places and people. He had met Jack Kennedy, and Krushchev, traveled the planet, shaken hands with heads of state. On his wall was a large photograph of the earth taken from the moon and given to him as a gift by NASA. But then my friend's father turned the attention away from him and asked about me, and what I did, and if I would like some iced tea, and lamented the fact that he couldn’t rise from his chair to give me a proper goodbye. The gentleman I sat with that summer day epitomized the kind of person I would want to do business with; someone who, no matter how much they have accomplished in life, meets each individual person-to-person, without titles, without an inflated view of their own relevance.

Henri Nouwen, in his book “In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership”, talks about the need of leaders to become completely irrelevant and to stand in the world with nothing to offer but his or her vulnerable self.

Nouwen says, “The great message that we have to carry, as ministers of God’s Word and followers of Jesus, is that God loves us not because of what we do or accomplish, but because God has created and redeemed us in love and has chosen us to proclaim that love as the true source of all human life.”

Being a business person as well as a servant may not sound like good sense out in the world of a dog-eat-dog mentality. However, I believe that success isn't achieved by eradicating the qualities of humbleness and compassion, but by possessing them. More importantly, as a follower of Christ it is the path I am called to walk in all of life.


Sacred Geometry & Frozen Music

"Geometry is sacred when it is mirrored from nature. The labyrinth is based on not only the circle--which is a universal symbol in all cultures around the world--but it's also based on the double spiral. If you think of ocean waves coming in and out, that's all spiral. If you look at the water going down your drain, it's spiral. There's spiral patterns. If you look at seashells you can see spirals. Spirals are in nature. So when geometry is reflecting that, it's called sacred.

Sacred geometry was an art in the Middle Ages that is lost to us now. It's based on everything being in proportion to itself, but not necessarily symmetrical. Many people are fascinated with sacred geometry and are caught up with drawing the labyrinth from Chartres--the eleven circuit medieval labyrinth. They draw it again and again. Some people base it on the Vesica Piscis. Personally I haven't gotten into the specifics of sacred geometry. You know, when we took our geometry classes, I get into more of the metaphoric understanding of it that some people describe as the envelope of pulsation. It's a way of being able to contain energy and create an energy center because of the design and the specifics of the drawing.

Another way of describing sacred geometry is frozen music, and I love that image, because, in a way, when we come to the labyrinth and begin to walk it, we're the frozen music. Then as we begin to follow the path you're turning left and then you're turning right, and then you're turning left again. You move through this wonderfully gracious pattern, and it unfreezes you. It opens your heart. It opens your mind. It quiets yourself so you can find your basic flow and be in rhythm with yourself."
Lauren Artress


My pastor cracks me up

I received the following note tonight as part of the Creative Collaborative team. Upcoming gatherings include ripping feather pillows in front of industrial size fans, and smashing jelly beans on a cross. It would take a little explaining...
But I digress. Lee just made me laugh when I saw his note:

"Just a quickie to let you know our latest edition of the Creative Planning Map is uploaded to our group page. There will be an added component each week of a "360 Web Page". This will be a printout that will bring a feel of myspace.com meets the book of James. Each week we will have a "My Friends" (helping us think of our relational space God has place us in), "God's Blog to Us" (for notes), along with a "My Chat Room with God" (for solo reflection). This is something we will use each week for reflection during this series.

Cool. Thanks for all that you are! I am thankful to be worshipping with each of you."


My Oscar

Last night I was at our local Episcopal Cathedral for a "Mission: Possible" covert operation - an invitation that mysteriously arrived on CD to those who serve on ministry teams. It turned out to be a very creative recognition celebration for all those who serve on ministry teams. After eating some very decadent desserts, then a discussion led by Lee, and each team standing to a round of applause, Lee announced that there were some special awards to be given out.

Bob, an older gentleman who had just talked about how he believes in bringing his "first fruits" to the church in the way of money and service, was called up on stage to receive a bowl of fruit representing his belief in bringing first fruits, and Lee talked about how this man gives so much in various quiet ways. We gave him a standing ovation and right as I was about to sit down Lee said, "Anne, don't sit down. Come up here." I wasn't sure I heard him right. But when I went up, Lee presented me with the Beauty award and handed me a blank canvas. Then he talked about how much of my artwork I give to the church, and how, like the widow who gave all she had even though it didn't appear to be a lot to others, I gave of my talent to Threads and sacrificed time I could be using to earn extra money with my work. It almost brought me to tears.

And there always seems to be a back story, you know? Just yesterday I had checked my checking and saving accounts and found out I had a zero balance in each. The $60 or so I have in my wallet is all I have to my name - except for my emergency Pepsi bottle of coins that I've dipped into already recently. In the last few weeks I've been going down a different and new path that I felt God was leading me on in regard to freelance work and putting my energies into earning extra money. For the first time in two years my focus shifted from doing as much as I could for Threads, to feeling that I had to do more to bring some financial stability to my family. My heart is still there, and I have been working and networking with a group of work-at-home moms (and dads). Last night's recognition seemed to be God encouraging me not to feel that my whole focus has to be redirected, but that I need to find a balance between serving my church and earning a living. With all I'm trying to do, I could easily have narrowed my eyes to seeing life with tunnel vision, and severed too much from my view. May God guide me in balancing it all.