Recovery – Struggling to Grasp the Positive in a Violent World

Happy New Year! Happy birthday, Dr. King! And here we are in Black History Month! We at Sister Souurce, Inc. took a break to recover from the physical, psychological, and spiritual exhaustion of 2023. While there were many joys, there were also challenges – personal and societal – that tested our resilience. Twenty twenty-three will be remembered for different reasons but most of all, I hope to embrace the lessons I’m still pondering.

I sit at my desk thinking about a simple Buddhist saying to get me through the heartbreak of world affairs. “Families are filled with ten thousand joys and ten thousand sorrows.” It is not my biological family, but the human family that I think of as I contemplate these words. In these times when the world feels like it’s on fire, I must remember that the human family is filled with thousands of joys and sorrows. Why must I focus on the negative?

There are those who turn a deaf ear and blind eye to the pain and suffering occurring around them. There are those who spew hatred, act out of the lower energies of anger, hate, frustration, greed, envy, jealousy, and violence. These individuals and groups contribute to the detriment of the world. There are those who care deeply about humanity and wish to promote freedom, justice and equality – who continue to be hopeful and act in ways that model change. They may be associated with faith traditions, or not. On the other hand, I believe there is a growing group of individuals that once identified as, let’s call them “progressives,” that believe humankind has lost its humanity, its sense of what it means to be human – the capacity to empathize, the ability to control emotions and to practice critical thinking and decision-making. I’m less judgmental of them now because I’m beginning to doubt humankind’s ability to transform. Masses of people continue to accept the tyranny of the minority that places profit before human lives. When the world appears to have gone mad, what do we do?

I am emotionally and spiritually tired. I’m growing cynical and defeated. I search for the positive while I try to hold the weight of the world on my shoulders and those suffering in my heart. My heart breaks for the millions around the world being oppressed and mistreated. So, instead of complete withdrawal from humanity, I recall my re-evaluation co-counseling partner, Horace Williams, a 90-year-old Catholic, who told me about a non-profit organization committed to supporting Israel’s only intentional Arab-Jewish village. The Neve Shalom/What Al-Salam community (Arabic and Hebrew for Oasis of Peace) was founded by Father Bruno Hussar in 1970 with seventy families. Half were Jewish and half were Palestinian – all were Israeli citizens. Located an equal distance from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv-Jaff, the residents stated goals of equality, democracy, and peace to guide them in their endeavors. I wonder how they’re doing in the midst of this horrendous atrocity on both sides – this village that committed to govern collectively as they worked and played together prior to October 7, 2023? In days past, they collectively enjoyed programs that included a primary school, a school for peace, The Spiritual Center and Oasis Art Gallery, and the Humanitarian Aid Program and Youth Club.

Haled, a person who has early memories of the village community reminisces about his childhood days. He has since moved from What al-Salam-Neve Shalom to live in Haifa. He commented that when he left the village he learned about racism, among other things.

He says, “The most important thing I got here [the village] was an ability to understand the other side … I can put myself into another’s shoes, and that is useful. If I had been born Jewish in this country, I would have served in the army; in Gaza I would belong to Hamas. When I speak with someone from Kiryat Malachi [a southern district in Israel] I know how to overturn that mantra in his head that says – they are like this, they are like that.”

Rawnak Natour, a civil rights activist who focuses on equality in employment and education, while advocating to end discrimination against minorities, serves as co-executive director of veteran New Israel Fund grantee, Sikkuy – The Association for the Advancement of Civic Equality, a shared organization of Arabs and Jews in Israel. She seeks to effect change in government ministries, public agencies, local authorities and among the public, and to encourage better government policies toward Arab citizens while creating a new reality of a shared and equal society.

She says, “Every day, the village gives us proof that building knowledge and trust is essential if we really want to reach agreement at the end of the day. It gives us proof that peace is possible.”

As I struggle to regain my perspective amid current world affairs, I invite you to offer up what you do to stay sane and centered during such devastating events. I close with the following quote:

Outside the Circle of Care

“The ground is shifting beneath our feet. Old truths are falling away. Old stories are collapsing … A movement, led by Black people and young people but welcoming to all races, gender identities, religions and generations, has done the work of imagining a radically different and more beautiful world, and they are already fighting for it.” ~ Naomi Klein, journalist and author – Ware Lecturer, Unitarian Universalist General Assembly 2020

Warmest regards,

Elder Rev. Qiyamah A. Rahman


Next Level Thinking for Our Breakthrough Year February 2023

I have declared the year 2023 as my year of fearless living. That, in itself, would make it a breakthrough year. I have been working on attracting the energies of fearlessness and boldness of spirit. Numerous experiences confirm that I am moving in the right direction to heal some of the experiences that have prevented me from living my best life. Initially, the words “trauma” and “brokenness” surfaced to describe my experiences. Because I am striving to be mindful of the power of words, I declined to use them in this post to describe myself. However, I want you, the reader, to benefit from lessons that have taken me many years to internalize. Remember Tony Robbins’ admonition that the words we habitually use and attach to our experiences become our story. I have talked about my trauma and brokenness all my life. It is time to do the work to heal.

Recently, I attempted to get online to begin my day. However, I discovered that my WIFI connection was down! I almost panicked until I recalled the steps the IT person walked me through when this previously occurred. I quieted a mind that was already racing into panic mode. I reminded myself, “What is the worst thing that can happen if my efforts don’t succeed, and I have to contact the IT person?” Remembering the steps, I proceeded to disconnect everything – the power source, battery – everything! To my pleasant surprise, after reconnecting everything and waiting a few minutes, my WIFI was restored.

Often, in the face of life’s challenges, we must get still (rather than panic) to disconnect and, with a renewed spirit of boldness and confidence, proceed anew. The energy that is normally channeled into a fear reaction is redirected to allow creative problem-solving. How would we know and experience a different reaction if our default is panic? Many of us have been beaten down by life; when we feel overwhelmed, a sense of powerlessness can easily overtake us. Before we know it, we find our thoughts and emotions spiraling down the rabbit hole of doubt and insecurity. When we do this, we have triggered the law of attraction, and not in a good way. Just as our positive thoughts attract like thoughts, our negative thoughts attract like thoughts. I invite you to shift your behavior and install some stopgaps before you hit freefall, before you panic, before you give up on the life you want for yourself – the life you convince yourself you cannot have. You know the script: “I can’t have (fill in the blank) because I am (fill in the blank).” As I did when my WIFI went down, remember to disconnect, and reinstall. Reinstall positive thoughts. Declare a spirit of boldness.

Following are some steps that are endorsed by master coaches such as Tony Robbins and others, that I have found useful over time.

  • You must know what you want and where you are going. So, get clear on what you want and where you want your life to go. Speak the words; hold them in your mind. Envision what your life would be like with (fill in the blank). Start focusing – even obsessing! – on the thing(s) you desire. In my earlier years, I extensively used visualization as a tool to focus my energy to manifest my goals. Visualization is the use of images and visuals to harness the energy of creative thought in manifesting goals. Treasure maps, vision boards and collages are ways to practice visualization. When visualization is combined with affirmations, meditation, and prayer, these become even more powerful ways to direct the brain’s energies toward the intended goal(s).
  • Affirmations are positive self-talk to retrain the brain and to harness energy toward a particular focus. In working to eliminate a belief that I was not enough and therefore, not good enough, my affirmation was, “I am more than good enough to experience all my good.” Another was, “Today in every way I am getting better and better.”
  • Focus on the feelings of joy, gratitude, and peace that you will experience when (fill in the blank) is in your life. Tony Robbins reminded viewers that “Thought plus feelings = outcome.” We are powerful individuals whose innate drive is to create. While we are busy complaining about what we don’t have, our energy is going toward that. Robbins suggests an exercise asking, “What was a dream in your life that seemed impossible at a time, but is in your life today? How did it happen?” Get busy reclaiming the power and energy that allowed you to manifest your dream! Pay attention to what is working in your life. What happened to manifest your success?
  • Examine your beliefs. Our beliefs are the stories we tell ourselves. Robbins reminds us, “Change your story and you will change your life.” One of the things that keeps us from getting what we really want is the stories we keep telling ourselves about why we don’t and can’t have (fill in the blank). In his podcast Robbins reminds us that our beliefs have the power to create as well as destroy. We must be vigilant and remain in charge of our beliefs. According to Robbins, we must crush the limiting belief systems that get in our way. We must delete stories of limitation and lack, the oppressive patterns that prevent us from living our best lives.
  • One of the ways to live our best lives according to Robbins is to rewire our thinking. If we don’t rewire our thinking, nothing will be different, and we will continue to do the same things and expect different results. And we know what that is! Insanity! What have been your limiting belief(s)? Ask yourself, “What does this limiting belief system cost me?” Some other questions Robbins provided: “What is total bull shit about this belief system?” “Why is it not true?” and “What is the truth, that is, the opposite truth that would set me free?”

Now that you possess some basic tools, it is time to annihilate your old “truths” or, more accurately, lies masquerading as truth. Robbins reminds us that the words we attach to our story about who we are literally become who we are. The words we habitually use and attach to our experiences become our story. Eliminate the words and negative emotions that do not serve you. Let your life work for you. When things are going badly, don’t get stressed out. Get up, dust yourself off, reload, recalibrate and in Robbins’ words, “Go all out for the attack and annihilate the problem.” This man is a beast when it comes to personal growth. He lets nothing stand in the way of changing for the better. Remember, in many instances we are fighting for our lives; lives stolen from us that we can reclaim. Les Brown, motivational speaker and author states, “You gotta be hungry!”

Robbins utilizes several questions to move participants towards their goals. One question was particularly insightful for me, “What does the best year of your life look like?” Images of love, travel, romance, writing and publishing, family time, and consulting all surfaced in my responses. “Where are you?” and “Where do you want to go?” made me anticipate his next question, “How are you going to get there?” Dreaming is not enough!

Investing in the most important asset – ourselves – before we leave here to create a legacy is a constant theme of mine. Changing our stories and belief patterns can create a compelling future reassuring us our existence made a difference. To be successful, we must be consistent. We need to believe we deserve joy, abundance, and love.

As I embark on 2023, coming up on 75 years of living on this planet, I am mindful of the principles of the master trainings I’ve attended, and the wisdom of coaches I have sat with over my many years. As an elder, it is time that I employ what Robbins calls, “Massive Action” – that is, stepping up and doing the things I am most afraid of. He reminds us that Big Actions net Big Results. Dreaming is not enough!

It is not enough to understand or know – I, you, we – must change our thinking and conditioning. Are you ready? Set? Go!

Rev. Q


Reflections on a New Year January 2023

Happy New Year!

While such rigorous exploration of my interior landscape is possible at any time, aligning myself with the construct of the calendar year puts me in a harmonious space that promotes a higher energy, thus inviting rebirth, renewal, and recalibration. The calendar year provides me with the structure of a designated time to formulate goals and ideas, to check progress – or lack thereof – and to adjust if necessary. Both the concept of time travel, and the recognition that master teachers have long deemed time a mere construct, reinforce the notion that I am not limited to January. I can engage in this process whenever and wherever needed. Taking advantage of the calendar year works for me. For several years, I would walk for miles in the rainforests of St. Croix on my birthday, enjoying the solitude of my thoughts and the majesty of nature. Many people do something similar on their birthdays or other anniversaries.

While many folks now consider new year’s resolutions passe, I continue to derive benefits from the symbolic ritual of taking a deep dive into my life. For me, using the ending of one year and the beginning of another is not just a perfunctory verbalization of the statement, “out with the old and in with the new.” It is a time to do some serious soul-searching. I begin by asking myself questions like, “What is the state of my soul? What shall I claim in this new year? What shall I leave behind? What have I learned that stretched me and grew my soul? What broke my heart? What terrified me? What brought me joy?” Countless other questions push me into my fears and doubts, my brokenness, and my complacency, yet they also take me closer to my places of wholeness. Learning how to remain fully present without taking in additional trauma while healing from past distresses has been a huge challenge.  

In a past television comedy whose name I no longer remember, the characters greeted one another with the words, “How ya living?” As I conclude 2022, a year filled with so much joy and pain, and step into a new one filled with endless possibilities, I get to ask myself, “How ya living?” Of course, my heart automatically and lovingly responds with Dr. Phil’s famous line, “And how’s that working for you?” Well, some of it is and some of it is not! So, I will continue to utilize the New Year’s tradition to cavort through my conscious and unconscious mind spaces, reveling in the marvelous belief that I can create the life I dream of when I believe that it requires my active participation. And what better way to do so than to make a date with myself every year to proclaim my victories, mourn my regrets, and announce to myself and the world that I am here – still standing, still growing! 

Happy New Year! Elder Rev. Q


Reflections on Transparency and Vulnerability May 2022

The following is taken from a 2000 issue of the Thomas Jefferson District Connections, a publication of the TJD of the UUA. Qiyamah Rahman was serving as district executive at the time of publication:

I am aware that a number of UUs of European descent in the TJ District are very upset about the use of the term “racist.” I cannot know what it feels like to be called a “racist,” but I do know what it feels like to struggle to name parts of myself that were almost too hideous for me and others to identify, name and embrace.

I grew up in an abusive family. My mother was a battered woman and my siblings and I were battered by my parents. When I first became a parent, I beat my children when they misbehaved. I deliberately do not use the word “spank” here, although that is how it was referred to by everyone, including those from whom I sought help to change. The language allowed me and others to justify this behavior and normalized the behavior. We have learned to sterilize our acts of violence through such neutral language. The act of naming the behavior for what it was, was part of my self-education and my decision to step outside the conspiracy of silence. In seeking to change I had to remove myself beyond the reach of those who would seek to aid and abet my behavior.

My name is Qiyamah A. Rahman and I am a child abuser. Those words allowed me to move toward healing and to non-violent parenting. To call myself a child abuser seemed extreme to some, but in the face of a society that sought to accommodate my behavior I needed to rename my use of corporeal punishment as violence. It was painful to name myself a child abuser. But one cannot begin to heal until one speaks the truth, as painful as it may seem.”

You can find the above text on pages 336-337 in the book, The Arc of the Universe is Long: Unitarian Universalists, Anti-Racism and the Journey from Calgary. This massive six-hundred-and-fifty-one-page book represents one of the most extensive resources on Unitarian Universalists’ journey and reflections on anti-racism efforts beginning with the 1992 General Assembly in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. This carefully researched book “recounts events and reactions through the middle years of the first decade of this century.”

How did it happen that in a book of this size with so many quotes and references from numerous individuals that mine portrays me in such a negative impression? And more importantly, why did I choose to say yes to including my experience? In retrospect I am not sure that I fully internalized my decision in the moment. In the end I had to live with my decision to be transparent, to be vulnerable and speak a truth that was so hideous and ugly. I have had some moments of regret having said yes to Leslie Takahashi when she called me one evening and requested permission to include the quote in the book. I did not instantly say yes but as I thought through my reason for my transparency and my efforts to work on vulnerability issues, I said yes moments later. What I did not fully realize is that there would be some challenges once I granted permission. I did not realize that in a book that numbered six-hundred-and fifty-one pages long that the index containing my name takes the reader to pages 336-337 where my confession is visible to any and every reader. My ego, my pride would have wanted folks to also be able to see the person and parent I evolved into and that we sometimes stumble as we plod along life’s journey.

Another moment that I experienced some regrets about saying yes was at a UUA General Assembly after the book was published. A white female minister shouted across the room in an excited voice, “Qiyamah, didn’t you say you were a child abuser?” I could see her husband nudging her and trying to quiet her. Knowing this particular person, I knew she was not being mean-spirited but she tended not to have much of a filter and she apparently wanted to confirm to her husband what she had evidently read. I could see the embarrassment on his face from across the room. In that moment my mind was racing. I knew others had heard her. She clearly did not have a discreet bone in her body. I did not and could not lie. But I felt like I wanted to disappear. I was not prepared to stand in the midst of all these white ministers and declare what I had so easily written and shared in a book. But neither silence nor a lie were options. So in that moment I decided to speak the truth and to hell with the consequences. “Yes, I said that.” And I mumbled something else trying to explain the context as they moved closer. But I had won! In the face of shame, embarrassment, and possible ostracism I had not acquiesced. Life hands us small victories sometimes. When I said yes to Leslie those many years ago, when I look at my tattered and worn copy of the book and when I reflect on my journey towards transparency and vulnerability, I know I have miles and miles more to go. But I am so proud of who I am becoming as I approach 74 years of age. It has taken a lifetime and I am still not there.

When I recently opened the book for a reference it fell open to page 588. The page includes a quote from Rev. Patricia Jimenez, then chaplain in Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She states, “There was an acknowledgment of the indigenous ancestors who were there. There was something about white people who came later. There was absolutely no mention, anywhere, that Texas was part of Mexico, that there are probably more people in that city who were Mexican or other Latinos, before then or even now. So—I’m sitting there thinking, ‘Where are we?’ This is Fort Worth, 2005. What have we really done?”

Rev. Patricia recently died and transitioned to the ancestars. May she rest in power. She reminds us that we have so much more work to do on ourselves, in our congregations, in our homes and in our beloved faith of Unitarian Universalism.

Below her quote were the words of another ancestar, Rev. Dr. Hope Johnson. Her words bring me comfort and are a reminder to keep on keeping on in my state of imperfection and flaws. She states, “You have to get over not making mistakes—we don’t accept the fact that we can make mistakes. Perhaps it is our individual roots. We are still learning to be in right relation one with one another, so that we can honestly say ‘I love you. I made a mistake, let’s fix it.’ Sometimes we just need to understand that we screwed up and yes, it is hard. For me it is wonderful for all of us to be able to stay at the table of Unitarian Universalism.”

Thank you, Rev. Patricia, thank you Rev. Hope, for your courage and legacy that inspire me to continue to strip away the layers of oppression. It will continue to feel uncomfortable, embarrassing and even painful. But in retrospect, I do not regret saying yes to Leslie. I hope I continue to say yes to the Universe every time it provides me an opportunity to grow and stretch and to stay at the table of humanity.

Warmest regards, Rev. Qiyamah

P.S. We are working on rolling out (in time for 2022 UUA General Assembly) the newest feature on our website, where we will introduce many more ancestars we want you to know about.


Reflections on Ageism August 2021

Looking back at 2018, it was filled with several major transitions including my 70th birthday. To mark the occasion my three children put together a weekend that included: a Friday night sweat lodge where we sweated and burned away our toxins and negative energy causing blockages and burdens in our lives, a Saturday evening reception featuring great food, family and friends and Sunday morning worship service. The worship service was held at Abundant LUU in historic SW Atlanta. I reflected on elderhood and shared some of my spoken word pieces. I was surprised with a foot washing performed by my daughters, daughter-in-love and my granddaughter. Omelika Bynum, a long time friend and founder and director of Giwayen Mata, Atlanta’s premier female percussion and dance group, called us to worship with the ancient sounds of African drumming. Another friend, Imani Williams, serenaded everyone with a beautiful gospel hymn. 

Four months earlier I had relocated stateside to Marietta, GA after residing in St. Croix, VI for six years. I had served as the minister with the small UU congregation and became heavily involved with non-profits such as the Women’s Coalition and the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Council’s Faith Based Committee, both addressing domestic violence and sexual assault. Another interest, interfaith dialogue, was channeled through St. Croix Interfaith Coalition. As I age I have grown more interested in issues of aging and elderhood as evidenced in my membership in the St. Croix Council of Elders. I would have been hard pressed to say which transition, turning 70 or relocating from STX was the most challenging in 2018.

Having sold or given away all my belongings except my car, clothes and a few personal and sentimental items, I was starting all over again. I had done this at least twice in my life time so this was not a big deal. However, it is always a challenge to make choices about our belongings and to make decisions about our attachments. At times it was almost overwhelming to sort through six years of possessions that I had acquired assuming at that time that I was going to be living in STX indefinitely. 

I successfully relocated from one environment to another attending to all the details to make that happen. I accomplished turning seventy with great joy and celebration. 

What has not happened and what is a source of consternation is being unprepared for the ageism I experienced in Atlanta. Since the time I relocated from St. Croix on June 1, 2018 to the time I returned on September 15, 2019 I had been unemployed. I had completed close to 100 applications for various positions that netted me only one interview. I lowered my expectations and applied for positions requiring a Bachelor’s in Social Work. I applied for several administrative assistant positions. I did not get any call backs from my efforts. Out of desperation I applied to teach ESL in Japan. When the recruiter called they informed me that the legal retirement age in Japan was 65 and that I was too old for the position.

 I was a 70-year-old active woman still experiencing good health that wants to and needs to work.  I had pursued social work positions with no success. So I thought, let me turn my attention to ministry, which I was sure there were opportunities for me in the Atlanta area where some six congregations exist. While not all of them were in search I pulled out my ministerial packet and updated it and completed paperwork online with the UUA. I was called and interviewed for two congregations. I decided that I was not going to leave it to chance. I made it known on my ministerial packet that I was looking for a congregation that was already doing work around anti-racism, anti-oppression and multiculturalism. And if they were not, they would be willing to make a serious commitment. I thought the two interviews went as well as could be expected. The final decisions were not in my favor and someone else was called. I then turned to the Interim Ministers Search process. I was the first District Executive to participate in the intensive and rigorous training years ago. Other Field Staff followed my suit. My rationale was that I wanted a deeper understanding of Interim Ministry to be able to assist and support the Interims in the then District, now Region. To that end I was successful. 

During my job hunting stint in 2018-2019 I signed up for Interim Ministry and applied to a couple of congregations whose ministers had left. I was unsuccessful once again. At this point I had begun to rethink my whole reason for returning stateside. A few months later dialogue with my family made it clear that settling on our Ancestral Land as I anticipated was not an option. 

Interspersed in between my job hunting I was fortunate to be able to spend time visiting family in Atlanta, Virginia and Detroit. These memories would become even more precious when I later decided to return to St. Croix in the face of opposition from some family members.

Reflections on Aging (and Ministry)

I had never thought about aging until my job hunting experience in Atlanta when I returned stateside. Previously, I have had the luxury of aging gracefully (and still do) and I was employed in positions and situations that did not penalize me for aging. That changed when I relocated to Atlanta. Technology has changed the entire job hunting process. The ministry search is very time-sensitive and since I thought I had plenty of time I focused on social work or human service positions. While it is illegal to ask an applicant’s age, the new question is, “When did you graduate from high school?” In the course of over one hundred applications I had one interview. Ironically, it was the one position I really wanted, a counseling position at the Pulaski State Women’s Correctional Institute. I really worked hard and contorted myself to convince them to hire me and to recognize what a gift I would be. It did not happen. I had all my friends and prayer warriors praying for me and I visualized myself working with the women and living in Hawkinsville, the same town that our family’s Ancestral Land was located. But it was not to be. 

For a period of time I stopped job hunting. I recognized that the constant rejection would sooner or later take its toll on my self-esteem and confidence and I did not want to fall prey to these subtly destructive messages that I was no longer of value because of my age and that I had nothing to offer. I never believed that but it was clear that I was fighting a losing battle. At least one person said I was running when I made the decision to return to St. Croix. Others said I didn’t give it enough time. Still others insisted that I simply did not engage in the kind of networking that would have gotten my resume in front of the right folks. 

In hindsight, none of this matters now. I am back in St. Croix, VI. While I am not doing parish ministry I was employed as a Disaster Case Manager helping individuals, mostly senior homeowners, who did not access resources two years ago to repair damages to their homes. In this second cycle we are stepping into the gap along with other non-profits to help individuals and families in their recovery. There is a lot of work to be done here. I did that work for a couple of years. I am now working part time as the Sexual Assault Response Team Coordinator for the Territory. As a survivor of early childhood violence and a survivor as a battered woman and sexual assault, this work has called me over the years and now I am resuming this work again. 

Once again I feel needed and am engaged in my call, to serve the needy and marginalized of society. My employers did not care about my age. My reputation preceded me and I was hired and immediately put to work. 

No matter what our age we want to feel our lives make a difference and that what we do adds value. In a capitalist society the profit margin is the bottom line. As a senior, I am not a lucrative investment. I want to live out the remainder of my years in a community where being an elder is not a deficit. I want to be valued for my competence and ability to contribute. For me, I would rather be in St. Croix among friends that see past my age, past my wrinkles, past my grey hair and take the time to review my resume and decide based on the merits of my experience and not my age. 

Pink fuzzy slippers... part of self-care!

Self-Care April 2021

Black activist and writer, Audre Lorde, reminds us, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgent; it is self-preservation….” In addition, pre-flight airline instructions recommend, “Please, put on your oxygen mask first, before assisting others.” Our personal wellness is essential for not only ourselves but the wellness of those in our families and communities. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we did not have to fight to put ourselves first? Jenn M. Jackson, on Facebook reminds us that the human body needs to “survive and thrive but capitalism and hyperproductivity culture have socialized us to feel guilt about the things that lengthen our lives and can’t be monetized.”

So I am giving you permission, Black UU women and girls, to prioritize your well-being, to take care of yourselves. To disconnect from the messages from the larger society that want to frame your self-care as individualism or selfishness. As Black women, we have been socialized to be super women and to put everyone else’s needs before our own. We have been tricked into believing we must take care of everyone for the survival of our race. Our strength has been lauded and promoted at the risk of our physical, mental and spiritual health. Enough! Let us take back our power to define our lives in ways that work for us and promote our well-being.

Blessings! Rev. Q

March 16, 2013 – Arriving in St. Croix – March 2021

One of the first things I did upon arriving in St. Croix was to rejoin the Writer’s Circle. Much of my writing is research based. However, I had the opportunity to use a “stream of consciousness” technique that is sometimes referred to as “automatic writing” where you put pen to paper and do not lift it until a designated time has transpired. Ours was one hour. This is what I wrote March 18, 2013 in that one hour:

I Remember the Time

I remember the time when I decided to magically love myself to paradise.

It was February, 2012 and I was two weeks into my visit as guest minister at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of St. Croix. I knew in the second week that I wanted to live and work in St. Croix. It felt so natural and I felt at home. It felt like a place that I could make a life. It took me five months, but I returned for good with my cat, my car, my clothes and some of my books.

I remember the time when I decided to magically love myself to paradise.

The plane landed and Will Franks was waiting to pick me up and help me begin my new life in his apartment in the LaGrange Community. Settling in, my black-southern-work-ethic kicked into gear and my euro-centric task-oriented get-the-job-done me was at the Labor Department that first week talking with my job counselor who I had corresponded with over the summer.

And I was job hunting and apartment hunting like there was no tomorrow.

Meditating and visualizing and engaging my spirit so I would not get anxious and afraid.

I have friends; I have a life with a growing garden, a quirky landlord and a lovely duplex unit…

I have attended birthday parties, and reggae fests and Hanukkah celebrations and carnivals.

I have watched sunsets and a few sunrises, walked along the beach in my bare feet and played tag with ocean waves at tide.

I have sat with dying patients and comforted family members and endured endless staff meetings and created a violence-free workplace for myself.

I have watched the ocean waves roll in and laid listening to the soft and quiet sounds of the night ocean and heard gun shots and sirens.

I remember the time when I magically loved myself to paradise.

And found a Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists that appreciate me and might even love me a little bit.

A small Fellowship filled with individuals that have hopes and dreams that some share twice a month in Joys and Concerns that we say mostly in silence, but I speak aloud the name of my granddaughter, Malia, and my sister, Betty, and my soon-to-be ninety-year-old mother’s name, and my patients’ names.

The choir sings hymns, some familiar and some not so familiar, and the musician plays the preludes and postludes and offertory hymns mostly from the classical tradition and each week I pray for inspiration and the right mood and tone to guide the prevailing Spirit amongst us.

That someone who came wondering if their life was making a difference — leaves knowing it is, if to no one but them — and that’s all right.

That someone who came hoping to be inspired leaves with a growing glimmer that their life is good and their hope is renewed.

That someone finds a kind face, a gentle smile, a reassuring hug or a shoulder to lean into.

I remember the time when I magically loved myself driving down the “superhighway” that I take twice a day from Frederiksted to Christiansted and at the end of each day my cat, Ms. Lili greets me: How was your day and can you get my food — pronto!

Ms. Lili is now an outdoor cat that is mastering her environment including the visiting cat that thinks it’s alright to steal her food and drink her water. She is not her friend and she and Ms. Lili fight. The visitor is lean like most Crucian cats and Ms. Lili is fat and well-fed like most stateside pets.

I remember the time when I magically loved myself as I garden year round and tend my house and sit quietly on my porch swing and wonder at my good fortune and…

I remember the time when I magically loved myself to St. Croix!

Beginning March 2021

When I became a UU in 1992, twenty-nine years ago, I had just entered a doctoral program at Clark Atlanta University in Africana Women’s Studies, a research-focused program. I was able to direct some of my UU interest and passion to the research skills I was acquiring. I soon discovered there was little information on Black UU women. Twenty-nine years later there is still no intentional body of scholarship devoted to Black UU women. That has to change. We can do more collectively about the invisibility of UUs of color in the UU narrative than we can individually. I consider our work of research and publication as a critical part of decentering whiteness in shifting UUs of color from the margins to the center and creating a more accurate narrative.

Answering the Question October 2020

Hi Joseph, Mark, Mark, Takiya and Michelle:

I trust each of you is well and safe. I have chosen each of you very carefully because of who you are and because I admire how you show up in the world.

I would like to pick your brains about an idea that I have had for some time. It is a website devoted to Black UU women’s artistic and scholarly pursuits. It would be a “gathering” place for their/our voices and works. I see it as the premier location that would draw UUs and others that want to contribute to the small but growing body of works by/for/about Black UU women and girls. It would become a place that would include: research and funding sources, interviews, advice column, music, art, a roving camera, blogs, and different genres of Black women and girls’ expressive works that provide a glimpse into our lives.

My question is, at this point and time in UU history, should I restrict it to Black UU women and girls or should I create a website for UUs of Color and Latinx women and girls?

I need to pose this question before I get ready to hit the go button. I am actually “interviewing” freelancers to build the website. But I decided to pause because I realize this is bigger than me and I do not want to look back years from now and regret having claimed too small or too large a vision. It never occurred to me to do a personal website because that is too small and I want to gather Black UU women’s and girls’ voices.

It is time. It is past time. I cannot tell you what it felt like to research white women’s entry into UU ministry and to find so much history they have documented and books they have produced about their journey. The envy I felt as a writer and researcher, knowing how I had to scrape to find the smallest bit of info about Black clergy women. And not even having benefit of basic information like how many of us there are. And finally realizing that we would have to create what I was looking for because it did not exist.

Even as I am writing and reflecting I am getting clearer that I must devote this website strictly to Black UU women (femme, transgender, womxn, non-binary) otherwise, the tendency is to go broad and compromise the depth and richness. And that is not what I want. I want deep, deep, rich, rich conversations and research and thoughtful analyses. Going broad will not produce that.

When I say this is my legacy work I am not just saying some words. This is what I am creating and leaving as a representation of my life. Besides my three children, the work I am doing as a writer, griot and researcher is my next most important contribution. Just as I am reading and poring over others’ works I know one day others will discover my words and read, reflect and form an opinion of who I was and what I attempted to do. I want to know I left something of quality. I want others to feel what I feel when I discover information that broadens my understanding and awareness about Black UUs and their presence. I want them to feel that pride and connection that I feel when I read about the champions and superstars and everyday individuals that came before me.

Another practical reason to restrict and narrow the focus on Black UU women and girls is the data base in my brain and on my laptop is becoming so extensive that I cannot stay on top of it. I cannot manage it. I must organize all this information while the neurons are still firing. I was going to share the basic “proposal” I had put together but I cannot find it. None of the possibilities that come to mind have caused it to surface. Right now this is a matter of having too much info in my head and needing to empty some of it out. The website allows for that. But I have been around long enough to speak to elders that I interviewed in the early 2000s who now have some memory loss due to the natural aging process or are suffering from dementia. I do not want to leave it to chance that my efforts will be catalogued.

I should probably delete this email because I have answered the question for myself that I originally posed to each of you. But sharing my thoughts helps me stay connected to each of you in ways that this pandemic seeks to sever.

Qiyamah A. Rahman

Rev Qiyamah Rahman in St Croix

Introductions October 2020

Q’s Blogs highlight reflections about my life and my work. And so I begin.

I am the third oldest of ten siblings. Two of my older siblings (Betty and Freddie) and I were born in Hawkinsville, Georgia in the same house that our mother was raised with her parents and siblings. We were all delivered by our Aunt Judy Bell, who was the local midwife. Our amazing mother managed to hold onto 31 acres of that same land which she has now passed on to her children.

I am a Unitarian Universalist minister and social worker and teacher (graduate of University of Michigan) and research activist (Clark Atlanta University). Over the course of my life, I have had many jobs. I worked at Meadville Lombard Theological School as the Director of Contextual Ministry and Senior Lecturer. At that time, I lived in Chicago, Illinois where I resided from 2007-2012. Previously I lived in Charlotte, North Carolina for seven years and prior to that in Atlanta, Georgia for thirty five years, on and off. I grew up in Detroit, Michigan. I expect to retire some day. At one point I was thinking about our ancestral land in Hawkinsville and possibly building a home for myself. I have three adult children, Libra, Kaleema, and Muhammad, one grandson, Brandon, and a granddaughter named Malia. I used to have a cat named Lili until she died suddenly.