Tuesday, June 3, 2008
My oldest daughter, Libra Finley, parked outside Elliot and Pickett Bed and Breakfast on Mt. Vernon St. near Beacon St. in Boston. She did all the driving and returned us home safe and sound to Detroit.
My 85 year old mom traveled to Boston with us to witness my younger daughter's (Kaleema Nur) graduation from law school at Northeastern University. Mom is a great traveler and always thanks us for taking the "old lady" along. I want to be her when I grow up. She is in excellent health and still works, travels and attends church and church related activities.
That is my just turned fifteen year old grandson seated in the back seat.
The two most recent road trips that I have taken could not have been more different. The most recent one to Boston, May 22-26 was a fun filled one with friends and family honoring a joyous occasion, my younger daughter's graduation from law school. It was a well deserved culmination to three grueling years.
The earlier trip, May 3-6 was to attend my ex husband's son's and my daughters brothers funeral. Maximillian Osirus Finley had just turned 34. He appeared to be at the top of his game with an engineering and a law degree under his belt. He was engaged to be married in September, 2008. He had purchased a brownstone in Syracuse, NY. and was a first time homeowner. He was handsome, fun loving and from the number of friends that turned out for his funeral, a remarkably good friend and a good human being. Over two hundred wellwishers turned out in Syracuse, NY and an equal number packed the medium sized church in Atlanta, GA that assembled to witness his final sendoff.
None of us know the day or time that death will overtake us. Max collapsed while playing basketball, something that he did frequently throughout his life. He ran track during college and like his father was good at it. While I do not know a lot about track I know a lot about grief and I can tell you that it was hard on his parents, his siblings, his young fiancee and his friends. No one expected for Max to check out so soon. If anything, we expected his parents to die before him. But again, life has a way of throwing us curve balls. That is not the way it is supposed to happen you say. The autopsy revealed an undiagnosed enlarged heart. But it could have been anything.
As the result of Max's untimely death, I keep trying to learn to live my life like there is no tomorrow. I know, that is hard. We don't want to become fearful or fail to plan for tomorrow. But there must be some kind of balance so that we do not take our family and friends and resources for granted and are caught unexpected. Let us not assume that we will long lives. Perhaps if we simply dream and plan but at the same time, live one day, one full day doing our very best at being the best person we can be so that when we lay our heads down each night we can feel that if we don't wake up that our lives will not have been in vain.
Can you say that about your life? Can you truthfully say that if you were to go to bed tonight and not wake up that you tried to stand for something? That you tried to make a difference? That you left a legacy?
What are you taking for granted today? What are you putting off in the distant future? How can you live your life with more intentionality and more love and goodness?
I invite you to ponder these questions. Furthermore, I invite your prayers/meditations/reflections for the family and all the family's experiencing untimely deaths and loss of loved ones.
Blessed Be! Rev. Dr. Qiyamah
This painting and the series that follows hangs on the walls at Third Unitarian Church of Chicago, pastored by Rev. Brian H. Covell. A member of Third created paintings on tile depicting mostly Unitarians, Universalists and Unitarian Universalists along with other public leaders. The collection is valued in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson et. al
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Susan B. Anthony
Rev. Brian H. Covell recently hosted the Chicago Area Liberal Ministers (C.A.L.M.), a group comprised of local Unitarian Universalist ministers. He is conducting a tour of his church, Third Unitarian Church of Chicago located at 301 N. Mayfield Ave. in Chicago. The church is comprised of approximately 100 members with a budget of $171,000. For further information you can view the website at www.thirdunitarianchurch.org
L-R Rev. Greg and Rev. Richard Boeke
L-R Revs. Tracey, Mary Lou Belcher, Nancy and Richard Boeke (seated)
Unitarian Universalist (UU)ministers serving in the Chicago area get together to provide one another with spiritual and emotional support and share and exchange insights. As a newly ordained minister and a former "District Executive" I know the value of such outlets/inlets. They potentially can feed ones sense of connection in a collegial setting and helps provide some opportunities for professional feedback and networking.
Besides sharing what is going on in our lives, our celebrations and growing edges we also do some skills building which includes deepening of our spiritual disciplines. I suppose the group could serve multiple purposes, depending on what we want it to be. Finally, we can prevail upon individual relations to further explore different areas of awareness and exploration into particular issues.
It appears that I am the only African American minister in the district known as Central Midwest. The District includes 72 congregations and comprises five states: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri and Wisconsin. However, ministers have more locally based groups that they belong to rather than traveling great distances to be together. I have just began with the group and am still learning names and what congregations ministers are pastoring.
May the work that we do grow us, our members, and our movement to inspire us to be a justice loving people who stand on the side of love!
Blessed Be! Rev. Dr. Qiyamah A. Rahman
This is a picture of the Chicago Theatre which I have yet to see the inside of. Had I known Eryka Badu was in town I would have made it my business to check her out. I was in town to check out Sex and the City and ran across the marquee advertising her concert on Saturday night, May 31. Her music has been described as "neo-soul genre." Others describe her as "black avant-garde vocal pop of the past." Her musical influences include George Clinton and Funkadelic, D'Angeloo's Voodoo and Marvin Gaye.
What music speaks to your soul? And when was the last time you lost yourself in some soul gratifying music?
Everybody that remotely knows me knows that I love the movies and some tv programs. I still watch the reruns of Sex and the City and so of course I went to see the movie. For those of you that wonder what the appeal is besides the obvious distraction and entertainment? It speaks to themes of sisterhood, love, lost and found love, identity and survival. Yes, it is more than a little superficial with the middle class indulgences of money, clothes, designer labels, serial relationships, casual sex and partying. But I settle for what I can get in a culture that does not bother to market to individuals like me that want to be entertained and distracted. I look past all the deficiencies and pull out some common denominators that I have alluded to: sisterhood, love, lost and found love, identity issues and surviving in an often hostile world, all while trying to eke out a living and create a life of meaning.
So, how are you doing with all that?
I am planning to visit the Goodman Theatre to see the Ballad of Emmett Till which opened April 2. In addition, the Court Theatre located at 5534 S. Ellis Ave. on the University of Chicago's campus is featuring a play, First Breeze of Summer directed by Ron OJ Parson, current resident artist at Court Theatre. According to Rachel Reed, "First Breeze of Summer penetrates deeply into the narrative of the Greene family, yet it also suggests race issues in a a broader context. . . abandoned by a string of men, each of whom left her with a child, Lucrecia Greene alternates between flashbacks of her as a young woman in the 1920s and the present-day of the 1970s. . . While specific context can be linked to a historical moment, the disparity in generational values and the capacity for religion to hold a family together transcends the epoch."
When have you lost yourself in a play so compelling that it captured your emotions and sent you twisting and turning into the life of the cast and drew you into the plot?
Chicago appears to have a rich cultural life that I look forward to indulding with great anticipation. Two other theatres worth noting for those that appreciate black theatre are: Steppenwolf and Congo Square. So stay tuned to future reviews.
Blessings! Rev. Dr. Qiyamah
Joe Cherry, Meadville Lombard Theological School seminarian preparing for worship service at Rock Valley where he was invited to preach/speak. Joe just finished his first year at Meadville. Congratulations!
Joe standing in front of the altar.
Consulting Minister at Rock Valley Ruth and Joe
Members of Rock Valley in sanctuary dispersing after worship service. Each Sunday the congregation concludes worship service with the recitation of the words on the banner and then retire to the social hall in the basement for refreshments. The fresh rhubar muffins were delicious!
UU Congregation of Rock Valley
Sunday, June 1 I traveled two hours with my friend and seminarian, Joe Cherry, to the UU Congregation of Rock Valley in Rockton, IL. where Joe was the invited preacher/speaker. It is a small congregation of about 40 that recently purchased the Stephen Mack School building where they have been housed over the years.
Congratulations to Joe for a fine sermon and worship experience and to Rock Valley for securing a permanent home. May they continue to experience the joy of community and the love and blessings that flow from such connections!
Blessed Be! Rev. Dr. Qiyamah A. Rahman