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Lisa M. Hess

United Seminary
4501 Denlinger Rd.
Dayton, Ohio




What is an underlying question that gives form to your work or interest in this field?

“What constructive work and risked relationships will sustain an expressive delight, able to companion the suffering of self and others while new life unfolds?"

What is your personal experience of collective wisdom in groups?

My experience of collective wisdom in groups comes in the contexts of religious leadership formation—peer groups, circle communities, spiritual direction, etc.

What is it about the work in this field that excites you and connects you to your own deepest self?

The primarily relational context within which wisdom disrupts expectations and resolves hidden difficulties is what (who) continues to excite me about this field, to connect me with my deepest self.

Please provide a brief storyline or snapshot of what brought you to this work.

A young woman startles to find herself driving an 18-wheeler semi. She becomes aware of driving safely, soundly, though she has no recollection of ever training to drive a semi. This is precisely what she seems to be doing. Receptive, she drives through tree-lined streets of a sleepy neighborhood, intermittently turning left, then right, as guided by the street map on the cracked-leather seat beside her. She turns onto a winding cobblestone driveway, slowly approaching a stately colonial mansion with bright red brick, white trim, window flower-boxes. She smiles at the spacious lawns and her eyes are drawn to the flowing but steep decline of freshly cut grass off to the right side. In the distance, she can see immaculate hedges, acres of botanical gardens, weathered wooden benches like islands in the sunlight. The semi slows as the cab circles around the front entrance, grinding the goods to a halt. The engine stalls. Behind her is the labyrinthine driveway, lined with ancient elm trees. In front, a garden fountain and neat sidewalks to the mansion. With beginning alarm, she realizes she cannot move forward or backward. There is no way to drive the goods down such a steep slope either. The semi would tip. Anger begins to arise in her throat as she finally wonders about the map. “I have been betrayed,” she says, to no one in particular. Rarely do I awake with a felt-dream like this one, but it stayed with me enough for me to work with its imagery. I am more and more convinced that the 'street map' I have inherited needs to be replaced or revised by a global view or listening, perhaps the kind of seeing that Google-Earth stimulates. It is really difficult to find a new listening-map, however. 'Collective wisdom' seems to promise more in this direction.

How would you like to be available to others in this field?

I am available via e-mail, though after an initial inquiry or connection, can learn/discern more quickly by phone interaction about potential shared directions. I listen for one’s sense of clarity and grounded practice whereby mutuality and challenge may be discovered by both (all) participants in the conversation.

Links to this site or others:

United Seminary profile

LinkedIn Page

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