From the heart of children

We collected three rocks from the garden, fished out our daughter’s tub of acrylic paints and brushes from her closet, and sat ourselves at the table on the back porch. Friday August 28, 2020: 23 degrees, a sprinkle of milky clouds in the sky, and a light breeze from the south-west fanning away some of the moist air around us. We began to paint.

The next two hours were focused and calming, a gentle time where not much was said but a lot was felt. Such can be the therapy of creation. When the time came to stop, for dinner was calling to be prepared, we tidied everything up and found a snug home for the treasures which we returned to complete the following Tuesday.

Our original painted rocks – September 2020

It is intriguing what certain experiences can lead to. She loves to dabble in art and craft. She does so for herself, but, on occasion, she has sat herself down with intent to create works for others. However, painting rocks had never occurred to her before this time and doing so led to something wonderful.

When the neighbour children came over to play, a few days after we had sealed and placed the rocks in the garden, she showed them what we had crafted, and this inspired a fun rush of of activity. They gathered some rocks from those that are scattered around the property, once again took out the paints and played. It was a joy to watch, but unbeknownst to me at the time, there was more to come.

About 100 meters from the back door of the house lies a long, well-travelled trail, which I walk and cycle on often. One that runs from the edge of one of the great lakes, through fields and changing woodlands for over one-hundred kilometers, to one of the inland cities. At this spot on the trail, which I can see through the picture windows of the house, volunteers of the local Rotary Club recently planted a pollination garden. Early this bright and cheerful morning, I went down to attend to its watering, and, as I did so, I passed by something wonderful.

There, by the side of the trail, lay a collection of painted rocks of varying sizes and designs, and a plastic tub labelled “Please Read”. I didn’t need to open the tub to know what was inside.

It wasn’t that this was the first time I had seen this. In fact, the children established this project last September, then collected everything to guard it from the snows of winter, and re-placed everything once the seasons had turned.

What struck me this time, what urged me to notice, was the contrast. Ten meters away stood a garden, created by an organised community focused organisation, for the benefit of those that live and travel here. And here, right by my feet stood a testament to the heart of children. Children who, for whatever reason, thought that putting rocks and paints out for people they didn’t know to play with was a good thing to do. What inspired them to be this way I don’t know, but I am thankful they did, and I told them so.

It reaches further than this, however. If they had not done what they did, I would not have been inspired to write this piece. And maybe, just maybe, as you read this, you may well notice something stir in you. It needn’t take a lot to make a positive difference in this world.

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