I am a casual follower of numerology and astrology, meaning that I read posts from free services I subscribe to, just to get a general sense of how “the stars” are aligning in my life. My usual response is something like, “That sounds right.” But I don’t get caught up in the hype of buying and poring over forecasts or learning “the secret blocks to my eternal happiness,” because my gut already tells me what these fortune tellers think is “news.” Besides, these tools are just a part of my spiritual foundation. I also have a deep and abiding faith in God, whose Love, Hope, Mercy, and Blessings have always guided me on my journey through this life in ways that are sometimes tangible and sometimes just a feeling. I must say, though, that these days, it does feel like the stars are moving in my favor!
Before the skeptics among you start telling me that this “faith” business is just nonsense, let me add this: faith is only half of the equation. As a dear friend of mine often reminds me, “It takes work, baby!” And I know she is right, because it is the work I’ve been doing, along with the faith and dreams, that’s gotten me to this point.
Today, I am proud—and humbled—to announce that I have recently been elected to a leadership position on the board of not just one, but two community organizations(!)—representing both of the communities I’ve often alluded to as links to my past (West Baltimore) and present (Northeast Baltimore) in postings on baltimoreblackwoman.
In May, I became Co-Chair of In, For, Of, Inc. (IFO), an organization that seeks to build meaningful relationships between Beth Am Synagogue congregants and their surrounding majority-black Reservoir Hill neighbors. This position and relationship are a direct outgrowth of my writings for this blog, beginning with a 2016 post [https://baltimoreblackwoman.com/2016/01/18/honoring-dr-martin-luther-king-day-shades-of-yale-rock-beth-am-synagogue/] describing my introduction to this community: a single MLK Day concert! I could never have imagined how this simple act would so radically change the course of my life for the better! Yet, this development only solidifies an understanding and love for black and Jewish people and cultures that I’ve always had. Historically, in Baltimore, our cultural and “upward mobility” paths have intersected. We are both “outsider” cultures whose migrations within the City and to the suburbs have occurred almost in tandem. But on an individual level, I’ve had Jewish friends (in high school, college, and at work) who, at seminal times in my life, have encouraged me in specific ways to believe in myself and my possibilities, and to act in more positive, expansive, and productive ways.
Over the last 3½ years in this organization, I have built friendships and working relationships that challenge me to do more, for and with others, while also continuing to build my confidence and skills to be my best self, both in my day-to-day life and my spiritual life [https://baltimoreblackwoman.com/2016/10/14/sacred-spaces/; https://baltimoreblackwoman.com/2016/10/18/sacred-spaces-2/]. I have also discovered that my ties to this community are older and deeper than I first realized. Among the Beth Am members I already knew—without realizing it—are a former editorial client from my work days and a high school and college classmate. And my dear friend who I quoted earlier is also a family friend who has connected me with other mutual friends who’ve lived in Reservoir Hill for decades!
Less than 2 weeks ago, I was elected to serve on the Board of Directors of Lauraville Improvement Association (LIA), an organization I’ve been part of (but not always actively) for most of my life— thanks to my late parents’ decades-long (1960s-1980s) example of dedication and service to it, when I was growing up. Admittedly, I took my membership for granted, almost like a legacy, until recently. First, in 2016 (there’s that year, again!) the then-editor of the LIA Newsletter asked to interview my mother about her more than 50 years of living in Lauraville. What my mother had to say about her experiences was both an eye-opener and a night-and-day contrast to my experiences, which I later wrote about in my own article for the same publication [https://baltimoreblackwoman.files.wordpress.com/2018/04/mp-article-lauraville-news.pdf]. Then, about 2 years ago, I tentatively decided to join one of the committees (LIA Block Captains). My activity remained marginal (except for sharing my opinions about community issues) until December 2018, when I decided to attend the year-end meeting, and early this Spring, when I again attended—and spoke up on issues of concern. So, to be nominated and elected to the Board in the space of a few months was a huge surprise to me!
But it’s the work I’ve put in to both these organizations (as well as seeing the fruits of my labor) that has me so excited to be on this new path in my journey. What began as an urge to write about my experiences as a Black Woman from Baltimore has propelled me to act for this City—and its many communities—that I love!
The Journey of a Lifetime begins with a single step forward….