When CC worked in South Carolina, she was frequently bummed out. She'd achieved her dream job and it wasn't making her happy, she was terribly lonely without the CSO, she barely made enough to live on and she'd made a best friend only to watch that person move away.
That was when she would drive 60 miles to go to her "local" UU church, every Sunday, absolutely without fail.
In the South, the custom is to have message boards outside each church with a mildly wiseass Christian message, the sort of thing that the ChaliceMom thinks is terribly clever. (E.g "Forbidden fruit creates many jams," "Do not wait for the hearse to take you to church" and the ever-popular "Sign broken. Message inside this Sunday.")
CC got used to these and even delighted in the funnier ones. Next roadtrip she takes down South, she will post the coolest examples here.
But there was one sign that always got me.
It was a Baptist church on a hill just before the city limits. The sign, every week, without fail, read:
Jesus loves you.
We love you.
Yes, they were Baptists, and probably Conservative ones at that, and your friend the cranky humanist did her best to convince herself that if they knew her, really knew her, they wouldn't love her. Jesus probably wouldn't be too fond of her either.
Yet somehow, I kept smiling anyway.
I cannot tell you what that sign did for me and how many bad days it got me through. In some ways, it was a preparation for coming to my church and preparing to be taken in to the community of loveable oddballs that UU churches in very conservative places attract. (And I was certainly as oddball as any of them.)
The talk about UU elevator speeches is all well and good, but I find sometimes what what I need more in a short phrase about UUism is something that keeps me going, a message that really captures the feeling of being surrounded by people who are at once challenging and accepting. Something simple and beautiful and subtle in its power.
I'm liking Ministrare's version:
You are loved.
You are good.
You can make a difference.
I like to display my own cleverness as much, or even more, than the average UU. But tonight I'm thinking about the signs I show the world, and hoping that I can keep my message simple and beautiful, at least some of the time.