It sounds like something kindergarteners would do at summer day camps, but adults and kids alike have begun painting and hunting rocks in cities across the country this summer.
They show up in parks.
They show up in public restrooms at the local Dairy Queen (that one is true, this blogger found one in the DQ bathroom just a few weeks ago – it looked like a ladybug).
They find their way into our hands, onto the hoods of our cars, and into our hearts.
The craze began earlier this summer, with a few small groups scattered across social media posting photos of their rocks hidden in locations around their local communities. From those isolated social media gatherings, it spread like wildfire.
Now, many communities across the nation have at least one group that has painted dozens of rocks and hidden them across their cities for others to find and enjoy. Businesses have even gotten involved, sometimes even offering discounts or deals to customers bearing one of the business’s painted rocks. Churches and other religious organizations have also started painting rocks with spiritually-uplifting messages, encouraging members of the community to come to services or events.
This social media trend has brought nationwide attention to something hidden almost below the surface of our global culture.
In the past, some communities in harsh-winter areas have woken morning after morning to handmade scarves and hats miraculously appearing overnight on public fixtures like fountains, statues, and monuments, with notes attached. These notes state that anyone who needs the item, scarf, hat, glove, or other accessory, is welcome to take it, and to pass on the sentiment as they are able. To homeless and indigent individuals, these items have sometimes been the difference between comfort and trauma on freezing winter nights.
Soup kitchens rely on the goodwill of the community to feed people who cannot always provide for themselves or their family.
Thrift stores take in unwanted items and turn them around for people of modest means to have access to them.
NICUs and maternity wards receive handmade baby blankets, hats, and wraps every year, bright and comforting in their pastel colors and cutesy designs.
These painted rocks are just the next wave of goodwill and sincerity in a culture usually dominated by news of deaths, violence, and trauma every night on the news.
So, gather your family and friends. Pick up some paints at the dollar story, snag some rocks from a gravel road or your backyard, and paint whatever makes your heart happy.
You can even take pictures of your rocks before you hide them around your neighborhood, or you can put some kind of marking on them so people could track you down as the originator of that rock.
Bond with new friends and family through something as simple as a rock with bright colors splashed all over it.
It’s the next big thing. Join in. Everybody’s doing it!