The photos on Maria’s bulletin board give glimpses of her life. Golden retriever, Murphy, chases a tennis ball and receives praises for his run. Little brother, Jimmy, splashes in the kiddie pool. On the picnic table, mom is cutting sweet corn off the cob. Her two children are chomping on the cobs enjoying the niblets. The mountains shrouded in fog cloaks in mystery the family trip through Glacier National Park. The last photo taken of grandma shows her gracious smile easing through the pain on her face as she lives with cancer. Uncle Jack is hugging his dad goodbye before he is deployed to Afghanistan. A newspaper photo of George Floyd reminds her that “Black Lives Matter.” At the crime when George was killed, his life didn’t. Maria’s fourth-grade class is a gathering of nations, bringing together various appearances and cultures: Jose—Brazil; Susie—Michigan; Stephan—Kenya; Kim—Vietnam.

Maria sees people, events, places that have helped create who she is. She has not walked through life solo. Her siblings and pets have given her fun along with challenges that have helped her to become Maria. She has learned the tastiness and nourishment of summer vegetables and fruits and how to prepare them for eating. Sunsets, fog, storms and trees have brought her into wonder and the community of nature. Grandma has passed on stories of family and friends ensuring that her offspring meet people in their family history.

Maria wonders about herself—and others: “What snapshots of me appear on other people’s display board? Who is with me? What are we doing? I wonder if I would put the same pictures on the bulletin board to tell my story that others who know me would post. What photos would I post to express my life? Which photos would I want to remove? Why? What am I doing to support those with me to become more of who they are to become? I wonder…”

Mary Reuter, OSB

Photo by Vladyslav Dukhin