Have painted rocks come to your town?
For me it began with one find - at the park, perched on a tree stump, I found a rock. The rock was painted bright, a wonderful design, and made me smile. I wasn’t sure what to do with it so I left it where I found it.
Ready to bring a smile to the next park goer. Over time more and more rocks appeared - at the park, on sidewalks, on the church property, in windowsills, in the grass. All beautifully painted and diverse.
Some with positive messages - Smile, Love, Be Happy, Inspire.
Some with animals - turtles, bees, crabs, and ladybugs.
Some with elaborate designs.
We learned eventually that the idea was to paint the rocks, hide them, and once found, hide them again for someone else to find. Rocks were on everyone's minds. You could be out running an errand or on a walk with your family and stumble upon a rock. A painted rock could change the trajectory of your day.
So what makes them special? They are just rocks. It’s just paint and some designs. But after finding painted rock after painted rock I’m convinced that a rock is never just a rock.
Especially when it’s a rock bringing neighbors together.
Especially when it’s a rock spreading hope, love, and inspiration.
That’s the lesson we learn and teach over and over again at church - simple, tangible objects can and do contain the holy. At church it’s bread and wine, water and word. Things we can touch and taste and feel. Reminders that God comes to us in the most intimate, personal, and tangible ways. Even sometimes in a rock.
My daughter and I spent a morning painting rocks at the local library. We gathered with other kids and parents. Rocks had been collected from a nearby creek. Paints, brushes, stickers, and glitter were all available to make our rocks unique. Truth be told my 2-year-old daughter had more fun painting the paper plate and sticking stickers on it than getting the paint on a rock. But we were there. Our friends made turtles and a crab. I made a bee and one with a heart. For two hours rocks were painted for the sole purpose of hiding them to surprise their neighbors. For two hours creativity and inspiration came together so that beauty could be shared in the community.
My daughter and I took the rocks we painted and hid them in our neighborhood. I told her someone would find our rocks and maybe, just maybe, it would be the beauty that person needed to see that day. We said a prayer for whoever would find the rocks. And in praying for an unknown neighbor our community became a little bit smaller.
Isn’t that how God works?
God created us in beauty and hope and love so that we would continue to create and share. Doesn’t God come to us in the simplest, smallest, and most unexpected ways?
I’d like to believe so.
One rock at a time.