When the evening shadows and the stars appear, and there is no one there to dry your tears. I could hold you for a million years to make you feel my love.Bob Dylan
My sister had just taught me how to make bubble letters, which I thought would surely impress all of my friends. So, before all the other children arrived, I drew and meticulously colored, in big wobbly red bubble letters, "GOD IS LOVE" on the green chalkboard in my kindergarten Sunday School classroom.
Not long into class, after all the children had arrived and pretty much ignored my artistry, one of my all-time favorite teachers picked up an eraser and began to swipe over the dusty old board, much to my dismay. But I was even more dismayed that my artistic creation did not seem to be fading despite her vigorous attempt. Mysterious. Miraculous, perhaps. Turns out, that red chalk that was—in my defense—on the chalk tray was actually a stumpy little red crayon. The tears started, as I recall, right about the time friends began whispering that I was definitely in big trouble. I was as mortified as a 6-year-old can get.
I was mortified, that is, only until that beautiful, wise Sunday School teacher scooped me into her arms in a clear moment of amazing grace. I heard her deep, alto laugh in my ear and she said, “Oh, no! No one is in trouble! Don’t you see, dear children, this is just perfect! What can erase God’s love? Nothing!”
She ended the warm hug with a squeeze and then gleefully picked up a piece of white chalk and began quickly writing, around my unintentionally semi-permanent crayon art, all the things that we could think to yell out that might make us feel unlovable in the eyes of God: Lying. Cheating in school. Cussing. Hitting your brother. Cutting in line for the slide. Chewing gum in church. (It was a lot for a kid, those conservative religious rules in the 70s.) But then with
GOD IS LOVE.
In big wobbly red bubble letters.
It is my only memory of a lesson from
Spirit of Love, when we try hard but make a mess anyway (because we are all only precious children, after all), may we remember to laugh, hold each other close, and marvel at the truth that remains; which, in the end, is only LOVE.
[This article was published on Braver/Wiser, a part of the UUA Worship & Inspiration Resource.]
Rev. Misha Sanders, MDiv '18, is mostly a mom, but also a hospital chaplain and a fiery preacher of the good news of Unitarian Universalism. She believes that the whole world is built and rebuilt by the stories we tell ourselves and each other.