I collect cool license plates. Photos of them, I mean. I creep along at 3 miles an hour in parking lots, one eye on where I’m going and the other on whatever plates have wandered in. I’ve been known to whip out my phone to snap the tag ahead of me at a stoplight. Or make my husband change lanes three times to get behind a plate I want to capture (I only did that once).
I love seeing what other drivers want to tell the world from their rolling mini-tweet. And I appreciate the wisdom and humor of them. It’s rare that I get to ask people why they chose the words they did because the cars are usually parked and the drivers elsewhere.
But when I do, it can get interesting. A license plate in a recreation center parking lot sported one word: REALITY. Better yet, it was plain black on a plain white background with the little word “Maryland” above. No stickers, no fancy plate-holder, just the word, stark as could be. To my surprise, the owner was sitting inside the car. He rolled down his window as I approached. Asked why he had chosen what he did, he looked at me for a moment and said, as you would to someone who’s just not getting the obvious, “Reality. It’s all around us.”
I chased, I mean followed, this car for miles waiting for the driver to park. When she finally pulled in a driveway, we had a chance to chat. Turned out she was a massage therapist making a house call, and I had followed her right into my own neighborhood! She said her business is bringing calmness to her clients, and she liked the play on words.
But even before I found out the story behind DOTCALM, her tag reminded me to get my mind off whatever I was distractedly worrying about and remember what St. Paul advised: “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
A license plate changed my attitude! Which shows how something small can change someone’s day, which then reverberates in all sorts of good ways.
The next plate was outside a restaurant in Vancouver where my cousin Marilyn and I were enjoying lunch and about ten years of catching up.
I didn’t meet the author of this one, but it got me wondering what events in that person’s life caused them to choose this message. And could a license plate have inspired someone like Gandhi or Mother Teresa to think more deeply about forgiveness?
“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” (Mahatma Gandhi)
“People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway!” (St. Teresa of Calcutta)
And the easiest of all to remember, from the prolific quipster Anonymous: “Carrying a resentment is like letting someone live rent-fee in your head.”
The tag below is especially clever because it uses the District of Columbia flag (two bars and three stars) that’s in the middle of every DC plate as an equal-sign to say God is Love. This is better than plates that have an obscure scripture reference, like one I saw recently that said LK 4-18 that you mean to look up when you get home but totally forget about because you’re unloading groceries from the car and when you open the front door you notice the plants need watering.
OK, one more for today.
I had driven south this spring to give a Lenten Day of Reflection to the Greensboro NC Council of Catholic Women. When I saw this in a drug store parking lot I couldn’t get to my phone fast enough. Hundreds of plates have escaped me in the wild (too far away, moving too fast, seen while driving) and it’s a thrill to find such a great one “in captivity” sitting still in its parking space. I didn’t meet the driver, but here are some thoughts that could have inspired him:
“The heart’s purification begins by Faith. The heart will be perfectly purified if faith is brought to life through love.” (St. Thomas Aquinas)
“Faith is the substance of things to be hoped for, the evidence of things unseen” (Heb 11:1).
“Those whose faith is not carried out in actions…do not love me. And because they do not love me they do not love their neighbors, whom I love.” (God’s words to St. Catherine of Siena)
Hope you enjoyed these and that they gave you food for thought. Seen any good plates lately?