Saturday, February 5, 2011

Chi Town in the Winter Time!

(Taken outside my bedroom window which faces the parking lot for University of Chicago's (U of C) shuttle buses  (see background). The "snow movers" have been working overtime to remove the snow. This is a small one compared to the 18 wheelers they use. U of CThey are running out of places to put it. lol )

(I live three blocks away from Meadville Lombard Theological School (MLTS) where I work. As many of you know, MLTS is partnering with Andover Newton to create an interreligious university that will debut this summer, 2011. The building shown in the picture is our main administrative building that we now have a contract on and which we will vacate December, 2011. While there is a lot of sadness about the loss of this historic building (and our other three properties) there is also excitement at the prospect of having a building that holds all our students, faculty and staff. During our recent January Convocation and Intensives faculty experienced "smart classrooms" that allowed us with the push of a button to show power point presentations, go on line to surf a website and show cds and DVDs. We do not currently possess any of this technology. Our classrooms consist of blackboards. lol

The prospect of being able to house our library in more modern facilities including the Sankofa Archives is an important consideration in our move. It has been years since we have been able to house everyone in the same room at Meadville when we come together.  Sankofa Archives is currently stored at MLTS and features the contributions of UUs of Color. A new facility would allow exhibits of historic pictures, documents and artifacts which we have been unable to display appropriately because of lack of space.)

(A Wayside Pulpit at 1st Unitarian Church of Chicago featuring Sunday's upcoming service, Yes We Can! for upcoming Stewardship Sunday and luncheon. Rev. Dr. Nina Grey has just returned from a 3 week Spanish immersion class in San Jose, Costa Rica. I will experience a similar contrast next week. I will be attending the UU Ministers Association Center Day for a week in Pacific Grove, CA where the average temperatures are in the 70s.
1st Unitarian, located across the street from MLTS, is my home congregation. It is celebrating its 175th anniversary! I believe it is the oldest UU congregation in the Chicago area. They will be in search beginning fall, 2011 when the minister, Nina Grey will resign after almost ten years of ministry.)

(Both MLTS and 1st Unitarian Church of Chicago are located at the intersection of 57th St. and S. Woodlawn Ave (that is 1st Unitarian Church in the background). This intersection has been the scene of many significant ceremonies (graduation)and has witnessed students and faculty hurrying to Wednesday night Vespers. For years students utilized Vespers as a "preaching clinic" to practice sermons. A few bombed but many celebrated the emerging prophetic voices of soon to be ministers.
The intersection is located in the heart of the University of Chicago and is a main thoroughfare for students headed to various destinations that include Kinkos, Medici's (great restaurant located on 57th St.), museums and public transportation.

(This lovely and peaceful scene is the Midway Plaisance, is a popular site on the University of Chicago's campus and one of the landmarks I encounter to and from work. It is a "dividing point" between the UofC and the Woodlawn community in South that is predominantly Black. For many years the UofC students were encouraged to avoid Woodlawn. MLTS until recently did not venture into this or other nearby communities. Our community sites that are required in the students first year have shifted those dynamics. Beginning September, 2011 MLTS will discontinue the admission of residential students. My formal contacts with the community via MLTS have decreased considerably. However, being a resident in the community allows me continued involvement. )

(This is one of four properties owned by MLTS.  This property was recently sold to Chabad House. Formerly known as Fleck House the building was dedicated as the Sofia Lyons Fahs Religious Education Building. Besides formerly housing classes on the first floor, student apartments on the 2nd floor and many of the Religious Education archives it also housed the Sankofa Project Archives and offices. I offer accolades to Rev. Dr. Michelle Benley for pioneering almost single handedly the Sankofa Project Archives. Her vision and perseverance funded and created a physical site with office space (donated by MLTS) to locate the documents and archives of UUs of Color. Michelle donated her services as Director and made an invaluable contribution to a much needed repository for the scholarly works of UUs of color. Rev. Dr. Mark Morrison Reed continues in this vein with his research on the presence of "Afro American" UUs while teaching students research skills as they explore historic personalities and the history of race relations at their home congregations as they are immersed in the vital contributions of UUs of Color.

May the Jewish community enjoy the building as much as Unitarian Universalists at Meadville Lombard Theological School have over the years! May we continue to hold a vision of theological education that is edgy and prophetic - producing ministers for times such as these!)

(1st Unitarian's architectural design depicts the grand elegance of the european gothic cathedrals. This outdoor picture is a mere preview to the high ceilings and stained glass with its stone walls and columns. The building houses a crypt in the basement where several generations of UU families remains lie in repose. The architecture of 1st Unitarian and MLTS's administrative building are consistent with University of Chicago's grey stone gothic images that line the buildings block after block, almost seamlessly engaging the eye with little interruption.)

Hyde Park, the location of University of Chicago (Uof C, MLTS, and numerous other seminary's) houses the largest concentration of seminary's in the world. Right down (up) the street from work/home is the Chicago Theological School (CTS) depicted in this picture. They recently sold their building to U of C and are building a state of the art building in the area. An announcement about the selection of MLTS's future site will be forthcoming in the next 2-3 months. Faculty awaits with bated breath! lol

(Life goes on in the face of inclement weather as depicted by this man and child early Saturday morning headed out into the elements.)

(This final picture was taken outside my bedroom window through the screen.

It is time to get back to work, sermon writing, course prep, and research. By the way, I am reading a book titled, Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul by Stuart Brown, M.D.

ps I have just heard a weather announcement that more snow is predicted tonight!

Oh that I may become a big white polar bear that loves to frolic in the snow
or maybe a big black bear that hibernates  all winter and comes out rejuvenated in the spring!
Perhaps I will just be who I am - someone that loves to view the winter from the warmth of indoors - who ventures out after the blizzard has ceased and the snow is shoveled , ready to explore - ready then to claim its beauty!

Q. How can you claim the good in that which seems less appealing?
Q. When was the last time you ventured past your comfort zone and stepped boldly into the unknown?

Blessings! Rev. Qiyamah

A Chant to President Barack Obama

Below you will find a message from Karen Mooney, a seminarian at Meadville Lombard Theological School. Karen wrote a beautiful and moving chant to President Obama. Read her message below and go to UTube to view the video.

Q. When was the last time you meditated on world peace?

Q. Can you find some time today to begin or add to your present meditation time?
Blessings Rev. Qiyamah

Hello friends, family and colleagues -

When we are engaged in the world we are sometimes challenged. Peace is a notion that seems at once impossible and the only thing that can ever truly be hoped. What if we can make a difference, what if what we do matters, what if the peace we think so elusive is actually possible today in the wake of our faith.

In 2009 our president Barack Obama received a Nobel Peace Prize not only for what he had already accomplished but for the promise he held.

For a seminary class I wrote a chant to some of the words of his acceptance speech. As the winds of a winter storm pounded our home I finished this project, an exploration of hope in image and sound.

peace -
Karen Mooney

We must do that thing we think we can not. - Eleanor Roosevelt

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Body Building Grandma

Body Building Grandma Ernestine Shepherd Bench Presses, Runs Marathons At 73

Grandmother Up Every Day at 3 a.m. and Says 'I Feel Better Than I Did at 40'

I have a new shero. Her name is Ernestine Shepherd. She runs marathons at 73 and has a six pack that most 20 and 30 year olds would envy. There is hope for you and me! Read about Ernestine below and discover the source of her inspiration.

Q. When was the last time you pushed back from the table and took a walk or did something healthy?

Q. How can you claim maximum health in 2011? Let's go for it!
Blessings! Rev. Qiyamah

April 27, 2010
Taut abs and rippling muscles aren't exactly the stuff grandmothers are known for. But then again neither are marathons and cell phones that play the theme to "Rocky."

Ernestine Shepherd began working out at the age of 56. She now runs 80 miles per week and can bench press 150 pounds. She was named in the Guinness World Records as the oldest female bodybuilder.
(Courtesy Yohnnie Shambourger)
At 73, Ernestine Shepherd is in better shape than most people decades her junior. Up at 3 a.m. every morning, she spends her days running, lifting weights and working out other senior citizens at the Union Memorial United Methodist Church in Baltimore. She also works as a certified personal trainer at her gym.
"I feel better than I did at 40," she said. "I am very, very happy."
In less than 20 years, Shepherd has morphed from a "prissy" woman who never exercised to the Guinness Book of World Records' oldest female bodybuilder.
A die-hard "Rocky" fan -- "Sylvester Stallone is my man," she cooed -- Shepherd is preparing for a body building competition this weekend.
"I feel now that I am a very strong, positive and confident woman," she said. "Years ago I concerned myself about what people said concerning me. But when you get 70-something and you don't have that many years in front of you, you don't concern yourself with that."
Instead, Shepherd concerns herself with her carefully formulated diet -- 1,700 calories a day, mostly comprised of boiled egg whites, chicken, vegetables and a liquid egg white drink -- and packing in the workouts needed to maintain her stunning physique.
Shepherd runs about 80 miles per week and bench presses 150 pounds. Bicep curls are done with 15- and 20-pound dumbbells.
Married for 53 years and grandmother to a 13-year-old, Shepherd said she is exactly where she wants to be.
Well, almost. She's been looking for an excuse to meet Michelle Obama and even offered to train her.
"I've been trying to get to that lady. And I can't get to her," she said. "It's so difficult."
Shepherd sees her jaw-dropping transformation as fulfulling a promise to her late sister, Mildred Blackwell, who died in 1992 of a brain anuerysm just over a year into the training that she believed would drive them to become the oldest living fitness competitors in the world.
"I kept up everything she said we were going to do," Shepherd said. "That's kept me so close to her."
Twenty years ago, Shepherd was working as a secretary in the Baltimore school system after 30 years with AT&T. Exercising was not part of the picture.
"I was too prissy to exercise," she said. "I just didn't want to have my hair messed up. Didn't want my fingernails broken."
Then, at 56, Shepherd found herself in a dressing room with her sister trying on swimsuits for a pool party.
"When we looked at each other we both laughed because we didn't look too good in those suits," Shepherd said. "She said 'Tina, we're going to have to do something about this.'"
Marathons and Modeling for Senior Body Builder
The allure of a swimsuit-ready body sent Shepherd and her sister to aerobics classes. And as they began to slim down, a trainer suggested lifting weights.
Shepherd and her sister, who she says were "like twins," took to weight lifting immediately and quickly saw their bodies start to change. But one day, Blackwell began complaining of headaches. She was dead soon after.
Shepherd said she quit exercising, holed up in her home and started suffering from panic attacks and high blood pressure.
A close friend and trainer eventually forced her out of the house, telling her, "You know your sister wouldn't want you to do this."
She hit the gym, this time to keep a promise to her beloved sister. In 2007, she began running. She now runs in the park for two to three hours a day and has a 5K time of 28 minutes.
She has also completed eight marathons and has her sights set on the New York and Boston races, warning competitors that "the old lady's comin'."
Shepherd has snagged modeling gigs and posed for Essence magazine. Even Oprah Winfrey came calling, she said, but the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks took her off the lineup. She also took first place in her class at the Tournament of Champions' bodybuilding competition in 2008.
When Shepherd was named to the Guiness Book of World Records, she took Blackwell's ashes to Rome with her.
"When I got to the Coliseum I cried," she said. "I stood there and I spread her ashes."
She is now trained by former Mr. Universe Yohannie Shambourger.
"She's special because no one can have that kind of muscle at her age," he said. "Ernestine has a body where she can compete against younger athletes and actually beat them."
Standing nearly 5' 5" and weighing between 118 and 120 pounds, Shepherd is adamant that she doesn't use any performancing enhancing drugs or even supplements other than vitamin D.
"I don't want to train my ladies and give them the false impression of supplements," she said.
Plus, with her 74th birthday in less than two months, Shepherd said taking care of herself is paramount.
"I have old things in my body," she said.