Stepping out into Alabama

20121202_155407So I am sitting here in the living room of the temporary house I am staying until my new apartment gets ready because is under construction. I am now living in Birmingham, Alabama. I used to live in the south, well, now I live in the Deep South, what an improvement right?

My life did a very drastic turn after coming back from my great vacation in Mexico. I realized I could not come back to Knoxville, and still facing the unhappiness I was feeling there, something needed to change. The same day I returned to the United States, I traveled to Birmingham, Alabama to be interviewed by the hiring committee of The Greater Birmingham Ministries, a job I applied two months before. I had a great interview and after that they offered me the position of bi-cultural community organizing. Something I could not reject. I said yes to the offer because I was ready to start working with a team in the same city where everybody is located.

One of the hardest things on working in Tennessee was the long distance relationship with the rest of the staff of the organization I used to work. I am not designed for isolation, community has always being very important for me, and I was missing 3 of them: The community you can develop in your job especially if you are working in social issues, the strong community that friendship bring to you, and the koinonia, the spiritual community. And please do not take me wrong, I found a good community among the people working and volunteering with my organization, but being a one person office in East TN created a big dent in my emotional being.

There is a big talk among organizer about social health, and I believe is something we need to talk more about it. I am not the best person to give an advice about this issue, but maybe I am because I can acknowledge the fact that I need to concentrate in this area of my live called health, that for me includes: body, mind, spirit, and a good support system that I will call: soul (where the emotions develop).  I know that my move to Alabama was a personal decision to a fresh start, a place where I won’t be worry about how I am going to be paying my bills, but I will be willing to invest in how I can develop my health in all its areas. I believe working with a staff, as imperfect as it can be will help me grow as a person and as an organizer.  I have always described myself as a VMHB—very messy human being—, and I am looking forward to work among people who recognize their brokenness, and they are not afraid to show them to others.

People wonder why I have chosen Alabama, but in reality I have not thought about the messiness of this state, but about the strength and courage of the people working in it. I did not choose it because it is a better place to live, but because I know that in the midst of the emergency and battle, there has to be messy people who are willing to give it all to fight any injustice that comes to their communities. I am here more to learn from those in the front lines of the battle, that what I can offer. I am here because I still believe there is a call on me. What am I going to be doing and how am I developing this call? This I do not know, but what I know is that I came to this place believing that something else needed to happen in my life, and I just stepped out.

“It is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living.
It’s our handle on what we can’t see.” (MSG 11:1)


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