March 10, 2012

Healing Circle

After the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) conference where I facilitated a session on the Latino Writers Collective's Migrant Youth Writers Workshop, I traveled to Orlando Florida to visit two of my three sisters.

I attended a meditation session at my sister Mylinda's yoga studio, Altamonte Springs Yoga. In the session, we visualized our energy flow and dismantled energy blocks. As I focused on the energy flow in my arms, I kept thinking of the work we used to do in the fields as migrant farmworkers.

You see, arms and legs are tools. They work until they ache. They blister. They burn. They lift. They push. They sweat. They scar.

Though I've been exploring my past as a farmworker, I thought only my mind kept those memories. I have a clearer understanding of how my past still affects my physical being.

The next day I worked with my sister, Deb, on her Latina Leadership Conference. We took a break to deliver some food to a local food bank. We didn't really know where we were going. She remembered the last time my father visited that he mentioned a local community center. So, off we drove hoping to find it and to ask if they needed food donations.

Well, we couldn't find it. Maybe it was one of those situations where dad mistook a community center for a donut shop. Then a building with the word "farmworker" on it caught my sister's attention. We pulled into the Catholic Diocese's Office for Farmworker Ministry.

The HOPE CommUnity Center
formerly the Office for Farmworker Ministry
Like many Gay Latinos, I have a respect/disrespect relationship with the church. So, I wasn't sure about the "ministry" aspect of this organization. However the farmworker focus meant I could (temporarily) suspend my objections to the church in order to make sure food got to the people who needed it.

I looked at the reception desk with stacks of fliers spread across or taped to the front advertising basic computer skills classes, youth groups, tax help, local medical clinics and I knew this was the right place.

We unloaded my sister's SUV full of food that helped supply the emergency food pantry.

It felt good.

My arms that once worked in the fields now delivered food to those who still do. My hands that held tools -- hell, they were tools -- now write about that life.

We talked to the director to ask how we could establish a relationship with the organization. We're going to sit down with her next week to discuss it.

I know what I'd like to do -- a writer's workshop for the migrant youth.