This week we're featuring the office of Lynne Marie Meyer, the Director of Spiritual Life and Diversity at Illinois Institute of Technology.
Here's what Lynne wrote about her office:
Here are some shots of my office. There's not a lot of overtly geeky stuff -- at least, not pop culture geeky anyway -- but my prize piece of geekery is the Yoda Buddha given to me by one of my students just before she graduated. That Yoda sits right next to a little Yoda magnet given to me years ago by a Jedi-identified colleague, who decided that I needed Jedi representation among my interfaith display of icons, statues, etc. -- which has also come to include things like Mexican paper flowers, origami cranes, and yes, even a nun with a baseball bat, "Sister Runnata" (I'm a huge Cubs fan, and I want to help give my guys in blue any and all divine support that I can). Many of the icons and statues were gifts from students and colleagues, including Mary, one Ganesha, one of the Buddhas, a Greek Orthodox icon, and Athena. You can also see that I the end of the cabinet facing out towards my door, there are items about the Golden Rule in various religions, my Safe Space sticker, and two Hekate magnets. As I'm a devotee of Hekate, and since statues of Her are/were traditionally placed at thresholds/doorways, I've placed Her as close to my door as I could.
Next to that cabinet, on the wall directly to my right as I sit as my desk, you'll see a different kind of a display. The two African masks I bought because they're beautiful and I loved that artists' statements about what they signify. The Buddha tapestry was given to me by a colleague. But for me, hands-down, the central item is the focus. It's a medicine shield made for my late first husband, Ken, many years ago. He was part Northern Cheyenne, and when he was in his 20s (he was 18 years older than me), a friend made the shield for him. It features a crow, because that was Ken's spirit animal. When Ken died in early 2007 from colon cancer at the age of 53, I didn't know what to do with the shield; when he was alive, Ken was very clear that no one other than him could touch it, as it contained powerful spiritual medicine for him alone. As it turned out, I got my job at Illinois Tech later in the same year, and so I decided to display it in my office, where it could be honored and also serve as a kind of spiritual and emotional support for me. It's visible to students and colleagues, but removed enough that no one touches it. I later added the small shield with the spider on it to represent me, after a spiritually significant series of experiences following Ken's passing which left me deeply connected to Spider teachings.
The other photo shows the opposite wall, which showcases my diplomas, a 370-degree photo of Harvard Yard, a diversity-related banner, a tapestry with a favorite Dalai Lama quote, and a cool (I think) map of religious diversity in the US. You can just see the Daffy Duck mug on my desk, next to my very favorite thing in the office: that lamp. My mother's aunt Esther was a Baptist missionary who focused her career on two things: improving race relations (she was doing this in the 50s and 60s), and resettling refugees. She traveled the world, and made friends everywhere she went. One such friend, years and years ago, gave her this lamp. I've heard many stories about who it represents, and I'm not entirely sure which is accurate. We think that he's one of the Eight Immortals of Taoism. Because of the scroll and large forehead, he seems to me to be associated with wisdom. But hey, if any of your readers can give me more info about him, I'd love it!
I love this wall -- and my office as a whole -- because it's colorful, provides a number of talking points for students and colleagues when they visit, and more importantly, gives them a very visible indication that this is a space for everyone. I want students to see something of themselves here. and know, too, that I'm a real person with lots of interests who's going to take an interest in them as well.
What I really enjoy about Lynne's office is how she brings her genuine self to the space through items given to her by friends, family, and other loved ones. Every item has a story and a meaning. There is personality covering all the walls and students instantly know who Lynne is, can ask questions, and learn so much just by the way the space is decorated. It's an amazing office that really embodies the spirit behind my thinking for this series, which is why it feels like such a great way to kick everything off. I really appreciate Lynne sharing her story in such depth for you all.
Stay tuned for more awesome offices in the coming weeks!