Yesterday I went out on a solo bike ride. As I was cutting through our local high school parking lot, which I’ve done a million times, I noticed this wall. Although our high school is only about 15 years old, this wall has some unfortunate history. In 2011 it was spray-painted with an offensive racial epithet. I don’t know if the vandal was ever caught, but the high school quickly painted over the graffiti.
Now, it’s really covered. This mosaic mural, created by the students, is based on, “Where I’m From,” a poem by writer George Ella Lyons. The purpose of the poem is to help us all find common ground and connections to one another and the mosaic does just that. As I stood there looking at this beautiful piece of art that covered 8×30 feet, I couldn’t help but remember the ugliness that is underneath it. I was happy that this more permanent piece of art not only firmly covered the hate, but it also addressed it by focusing on what we have in common.
The wall reminded me of what the human journey is all about. We have moments in our lives that we don’t want to remember. We want to forget them or cover them up so no one, including ourselves, ever has to see it again. Our “wall” might have had a bad relationship, a tough career choice, or worse. We cover it up, maybe with a “beautiful mosaic”, but we will always know it’s there. And just like Montgomery High School, we know it’s there under the mosaic, but it changed who we are and we are stronger as a result. That marring created the resolve that otherwise would not be there. So on this human journey, don’t worry about what’s underneath that no one can see because we know it’s there, and that’s what made us so much stronger.