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  • Clarissa Valbuena Aljentera

My Relationship with Mary and #blacklivesmatter

One of my favorite things about raising a toddler are the many walks we take around our neighborhood. We walk to the park, to a coffee shop and to our son’s daycare especially as we work from home during Covid-19. The walks to school take us by a Catholic church with a statue of Mary near the front doors.

We have yet to attend Mass in-person, instead using Zoom on Sunday mornings to join our community as we worry about Covid-19. And the Mary statues (yes, we have two in a five block radius) are the closest I have felt to the inside of a church building since March. Mary is my steady force in a time of uncertainty.


My son and I visited Mary daily when daycares were still shut and we needed to burn off energy after a nap. The three of us became close in the days and weeks after George Floyd was killed in Minnesota in May. We would visit, pray, and blow kisses her way. On occasion I would lift up my son to give her a ‘High 5’ just like you would a friend.


As a mother I knew she understood heartache and worry. She knew what it was like to lose a son to a violent death in the hands of authorities.


I think of her often in my own fear of what it’s like to raise a Black and Filipino son in the era of Black Lives Matter. I pray to her to lift up and hold mothers of Black men and women who have lost their life because someone feared them or were afraid of them because of their skin color. My son listens as I pray to her in thanksgiving for watching over our friends and family to keep them safe.


He hears me asking always for her intercession. He hears me ask for courage to stand up to systemic racism. I lean on her for strength when I need a few more hours of patience to get through dinner and toddler bedtime. I wave to Mary when my son doesn’t want to stop and pray and I imagine she gives a knowing glance as if to say, ‘I know the early years can be hard.’


I often think of her in hope. In the hope and fear she must have been filled with when the angel Gabriel showed up to tell her the good news. I think of her in joy and wonder if she and Jesus wrestled like my son and I wrestle. I think of her in perseverance as I wonder what it was like to be among the apostles after Jesus rose up to heaven to hear stories of her son.


In a time that demands great courage from me to stand up and create a more equitable world for my son Mary speaks to me with such grace and wisdom. Her compassion and her presence buoy me. Her love will always embrace me.

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