The Banner Covenant
SSL Team Member
As Unitarian Universalists from around the country and around the world began to arrive at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, many were moved to tears at the sight of the 45 foot-high Standing on the Side of Love banner that graced the glass tower of the convention center
Inside, we found more banners, bold colors and beautiful hearts, LOVE standing strong. “Standing on the Side of Love with Immigrant Families,” they read. “Standing on the Side of Love for Marriage Equality,” and more.
We were impressed, even awed, at the understated beauty of the message and the banners that proclaimed it. We stopped, put down our bags, and stared up. “Thank you,” I thought.
“Thank you for this message of hope and love, for articulating who we are, what we do, and what we must share with the world. We went about the joy and business of General Assembly with a lift in our steps, extra-wide smiles on our faces, enthusiastic, energized
On Friday evening, nature struck, and during a raging storm, our large outdoor banner was ripped from the Salt Palace tower, shattered glass, and caused quite a stir and local news story.
Rev. Meg Riley gave us her interpretation of the storm on Sunday morning:
As we stood on the side of love with our interfaith brothers and sisters last night [at the community public witness event], our spirits got larger and larger. We listened to Larry Love talk about his family’s plight and our hearts got hotter.
This caused atmospheric electrical discharge, which gathered velocity. Soon winds began to blow. By the time we realized that untrained powers are dangerous, it was too late. Storms had begun to blow across Utah. Our banner, which had been gathering its own atmospheric perturbations from all of our energy, was no longer willing to be tethered to the Salt Palace. The rest is history. SMASH! Glass shattered, like that at a Jewish wedding, marks the covenant we have made with one another to stand on the side of love.
This covenant was confirmed, like in the biblical story of Noah and his arc, with a rainbow—a double rainbow even—that stretched across Salt Lake City’s open sky.
Our banner, damaged, but not destroyed, was destined to be shared. GA attendees received their own pieces of the banner at Saturday’s worship service. Volunteers distributed precious squares of gold, white, and black along with a reminder of the covenant to stand on the side of love in our communities and congregations. Again, many tears shown as we accepted the tangible reminders and the honorable challenge.
I shared my banner piece with my husband as soon as I arrived back in New York from GA. I told him of the energy, the passion, and the commitment of my fellow Unitarian Universalists and our interfaith partners as we stand on the side of love. Our banner now hangs proudly in our home, a reminder of the love we share with all who experience exclusion, oppression, and violence based on identity. It is a reminder that we can change the world.
Did you encounter the banners at GA? What did they envoke in you? Also, we’ve heard that many of you would like a banner to hang at your congregations. We will be making them available soon, so stay tuned!