Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Journey Revisited

Here are some slightly redacted extracts from my colloquium presentation...

...held Friday 9 September 2011 as I completed my Master of Arts in Human Development at Saint Mary's University of Minnesota School of Professional and Graduate Programs.  As I was presenting to an mixed audience, most of whom had not read my position paper, and since said paper was already approved, I took advantage of the option to review the course of my HD experience.  It turned out pretty well.

Not all days are good ones

I’ve been a warrior, sleuth, assassin, architect, teacher, friend, poet, foot soldier, lieutenant, harried executive, preventer, enabler, frustration, and inspiration. But the fates determine that companies and careers follow an arc, and some peak early. The last good fight a distant memory, I stand guard over the house-of-cards castles of bickering lords besotted by greed. Wearied by age, fatigue, and heartache, there is little to do but see that the men are fed, the horses groomed, and that the hounds – which have not hunted for far too long – are scratched behind the ears by someone who knows their plight. I fear I will never be more than a would-be warrior-poet to should-be philosopher-kings.

No locks on the doors

In the HD690 Process of Human Development seminar I decided to study the unethical use of fear to promote security agendas.  To do so I would focus on three areas.  These were Tools – the means to give voice to my learning, Self – efforts to discern my spiritual needs and see to them, and Team – coursework that increases my value to my work group, employer, profession, and society.

The Benedictine monastery where the seminar was held was also the residence of retired nuns.  There were no locks on the doors to our rooms.  I slept like a baby. 


Meditating on the labyrinth

The fellowship at the HD/PY 585 Meditation seminar led by Priscilla, the exercises, and the homework were even more beneficial than I’d hoped they could be.


In HD604 Telling Our Story: Memoir Kay Harvey reawakened an atrophied talent for writing and allowed me to examine the traumas – old and new – that shaped me.  A much lamented uncle, a car crash, my long dead grandmother, [...] and the death of my best friend came uninvited to clash with pleasant memories of an earlier, simpler life.  

Nothing positive about it

The short course HD693 Psychological Transformation and the Spiritual Journey allowed me to distill a sense of my place on a continuum between New Age “woo” and Christian orthodoxy.  I found myself most comfortable somewhere between Campbell’s power of myth and Jung’s archetypes. I didn’t care for Parker Palmer on the first pass.  I have grown wiser since. [...]

Which sport?

In HD732 Principles of Spirituality and Human Development in Coaching and Team Building (Coaching, for short) Katie Cooney and I mapped a reservoir of experience and hard won insights that were given structure and reoriented toward a greater purpose…finding the strength in others.

When I answered the question “What class are you taking?”  the second question was always “Which sport?”

Father Notebaart

In MIB519 Global Religions and Belief Systems I met the priest I needed when I was still Catholic, a gleeful sage, a wise mentor, and friend. It was like drinking knowledge from a fire hose.  My final paper gave me a platform from which to examine issues related to the nature of spirituality, faith, religion, and the certainty that arises from them.

In the sweat lodge

I am immersed in earth smells, 
Pummeled by drums,
Flooded by the taste of sage and sweetgrass,
Lulled by rhythmic chants.
Other senses overfilled, my eyes beseech the darkness.
“Bring in Seven…”
In glowing orange orbs I witness
Newborn stars at the beginning of time.
In round river rocks cooling to red incandescence I see
The Earth before air or rain or green or life.
Black lines on luminous ancient stones draw for me
The thighs and belly of a Neolithic Venus.
Nearly hidden in the darkening pit appear
The dull red eyes of an angry black bull.
These fade and something in my center is stilled.
And, as ladles of cool water
Wash the last light from the rocks,
As we descend again into darkness,
The eyes of a tired but wise old dog
Open for a moment and then are closed. 
Mitakuye Oyasin. 

Leadership and decision making

Not everyone in a position of authority is a leader. Thanks to Connie Kotke in GM 625 Leadership and Decision Making I discovered servant leadership, I met Richard Leider, and I inverted my org chart.  Not since I first read Defensible Space in 1990 has a single idea made such a change in my life.  That February in 2009 I made a little placard that still sits on my desk.  It says, 


In GM643A Management Ethics and Issues I learned that this has all been done before, but that every generation has to learn it again.  This was my turn.  Lora Setter, who is also my boss in the Security Management program, made it fun.


HD/PY603 Therapeutic Use of Imagery for Psychological and Spiritual Growth, expanded on my learning in the Meditation and Psychological Transformation and the Spiritual Journey classes.  I found myself growing more comfortable opening the doors to long unused rooms.  I found more tools, and a few solutions. [...]

HDIS2 Neurotheology, Mysticism, and Spirituality

My papers tend to have long titles like Seeking the Divine Light: Four Medieval Mystics and feature one page of references for every page of text.  So, what on earth did neurology of the religious ecstasies of medieval mystics have to do with a Masters in Human Development concentrating on issues of Leadership, Team Building, and Decision-making?

The limits of my credulity

I met Janet Marinelli in the HD690 Process of Human Development seminar and decided I must study with her at least once. In HD730A Eastern Movement and Philosophy I reached the limits of my credulity.  Janet created a safe environment in which to map the boundary of what I believe and why.  Not all freethinkers are so kind.

Wendy Morris’ wonderful course (HD573 Creative Leadership Development)

Cracked open my right brain.

I like it in there.
Cognitive dissonance causes real pain
but it can be mastered.
I began to envision a future designed by me.
Thank you Wendy!


GM605 Creative Problem Solving

It was not the problem he was trying to solve but Rustin Wolfe made me a better instructor by setting a powerful yet simple example.

HD691 Ethics and Social Responsibility

What do I owe my profession? 
What do I owe my community? 
What do I owe my family? 
What do I owe myself?

Finding my voice

I started my Eclectic Breakfast, a blog where I offer up a deliberately wild skillet scramble made out of my opinions about anthropology, astronomy, blogging, civics, compassion, critical thinking, education, ethics, firearms, friends, humor, hunting, law, leadership, medicine, memoir, movies, natural history, outdoors, politics, reading, religion, risk, science, security, service, and skepticism.

Putting theory into practice 

I consulted with my personal board of directors, attended Minnesota Literacy Council ESL and ABE courses, and began tutoring with ISD191 Adult Education this summer.

Time for another independent study:

There were other courses

GM610 Information and Research 
HD635 Getting Published 
HD698 Process of Writing the Position Paper

And there were still more I would have taken if there were time enough and money.  My
advisor encouraged me to do more independent study...
A model for principled security leadership

Again, with the books,
And on-line experiences,
And discussions,
And debates.
Putting it out there, with my name on it


Arguing against using fear to promote a bunker mentality.

So here we are

I pursued a Master’s because Don Winger said I’d need one if I wanted to teach.  I joined the HD program because Priscilla Herbison told me I needed to. When I began the Human Development program it was hard to describe – even to interested people [...] Like I told Priscilla at the end of my first contract I am pleasantly surprised that the human being developed is me.

The way of sword and brush

“Early morning
I pick up my Sword and Brush
To practice my skills”

Thank you all!

Photo credits:, Wikimedia Commons,, Kenji Sekiguchi