The Servant Leader

The idea of the servant as leader (developed by Robert Greenleaf) came out of reading Hermann Hesse’s Journey to the East. In this story, we see a band of men on a mythical journey… The central figure of the story is Leo, who accompanies the party as the servant who does their menial chores, but who also sustains them with his spirit and his song. He is a person of extraordinary presence. All goes well until Leo disappears. Then the group falls into disarray and the journey is abandoned. They cannot make it without the servant Leo. The narrator, one of the party, after some years of wandering, finds Leo and is taken into the Order that had sponsored the journey. There he discovers that Leo, whom he had known first as servant, was in fact the titular head of the Order, its guiding spirit, a great and noble leader.

Robert K. Greenleaf – Wikipedia

The 10 Characteristics of Servant Leaders are: Listening, Empathy, Healing, Awareness, Persuasion, Conceptualisation, Foresight, Stewardship, Commitment to the growth of others, and Building community. Yes! ten times over.

Thanks to Ian Miller for his post nurse as servant-leader which inspired me to delve into the thinking of Robert Greenleaf and others who have developed his vision and out-of-the-box thinking on leadership.

As Ian says, Servant leadership is not a position to be bestowed or awarded by your peers, it cannot even be earned, but rather it is a quality of recognition, returned to you as a gift from those you serve.

Brilliant! Let us aspire to serve thus, with no expectation of reward or recognition.

Just One Thing

Mount Shasta in evening dress.

Just one thing. Just one thing today to reflect on here. And as I think on the question it is almost impossible to drag out of my memory one thing separated from what that memory triggers.

There is a constant stream of faces, connected with ceremonies and singing and talking and laughing. And looking at the mountain while eating and talking. Of walking and talking and smelling a bush of Broom, bright yellow and fragrant. Oh and making an announcement to the gathered congregation about African Violets, They need your care, love and attention. And plant food! And thinking about my being asked to give a Dharma Talk next week and wondering if I have the time to prepare, or if I need to decline. And talking to a woman who had my heart practically burst open and tears roll out of my eyes in response to her open and simple willingness to take a suggestion on-board. Just that.

Right now. The most memorable event. That’s the haunting sound of a train announcing itself through the dark night. Now the distant rumble as it heads north, slowly – with more sounding echoing against the mountain. Just like in the movies, only for real!

So it is, in the end, the most immediate that wins the one thing challenge. No surprise there.

Found In The Midst

January’s Aftermath, 2010 Mount Shasta.

Trucks pass each other on the street
Small trailer trucks, their splintered side boards
bulging with their loads;
Massive construction vehicles with steel beds
easily contain whole tree trunks
protruding into view from behind the driver’s cabin-
all and each carrying away refuse
from a winter storm that snapped tree tops,
stripped branches from their mooring
sending them through roof tops
living rooms crushing rafters
cracking foundations
or just creating craters where they landed
in snow-covered earth with such silent force
that limbs stood up like wooden matches
until they loosed and fell.

An old woman, her body propped with two canes
walks down the middle of the street
then moves to the side, making space
for passing debris trucks. She walks haltingly,
calculating tree rings from felled oaks or
identifying cones from piles of pine.
She pauses, giving homage to tangled power lines
from downed poles, and to mutilated steel stacks
from crushed car ports, once sheltering
adventure vehicles for some other season.
The woman walks softly on beds of sawdust,
listens to humming chain saws,
creating mountains of firewood
from tall timber giants lying on the ground.


She stops at a corner; looking up, she studies
a centenarian oak. Its crown rises
above the nearest rooftop by three stories.
Splintered and broken, jagged branch stumps,
each big enough to form a single tree,
cling to the ancient trunk.
The old woman observes them, one by one:
They speak to her in some language without words,
a tongue she understands completely.
From the corner, she moves three steps
toward the East, to better see the trunk.
One side, ripped open, exposes
the tree’s heartwood core.
From outside bark to its center
the oak changes color, texture,
its light and dark reflecting
in the woman’s eyes. She knows
what it is to have a heart break open,
be exposed to storms,
to learn the sound of wind
entering a center.

There is something to be said
for gentleness.

Anna Lucas

Many thanks Anna. There is indeed something to be said for gentleness. Found in the midst.

Goodbye Cyril

That was yesterdays rodent relocation mission.
This is today’s ohmygosh what is THAT challenge.

For those who don’t know, and I was one of those people, the critter on the porch of the OBC HQ at Shasta is an Opossum. Defined by WordWeb as a nocturnal arboreal marsupial having a naked prehensile tail found from southern North America to northern South America. From that description this Opossum was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

We take care to do as little harm as possible so live traps are employed to catch the mice that invariably stray into places we don’t want ’em. Cyril was making a good living in the kitchen storeroom before being apprehended. Apparently rodents will return from a distance of up to four miles from where they are trapped. I opened the trap close to the Interstate 5 Highway close to the town of Mt. Shasta. He paused for a fraction of a second and then scampered off into the long grasses. Goodbye Cyril.

We routinely give a name and the Buddhist Precepts to animals. It is the least we can do. They teach so much about compassion – and love too. On first sight the Opossum severely stretched me in the compassion/love department. It looked like the largest rat in existence – but I was wrong.

Balm For The Heart

Scott Valley.

Coming upon a clearing in the woodland these waving grasses quite took my breath away. Like living velvet. Balm for the heart and no mistaking it.

Twas a great day out.

For armchair travelers see Fort Jones, a small and historic town in the Scott Valley.