You’ll forgive me if this post is different from my usual stuff. Feel free to skip over it, but you’re missing out!
There’s an interesting tradition here in Central North Carolina. Many of the elementary schools position a boulder beside the highway and allow the kids to paint the rock with their name and birthday on their special day. The kids get to choose what their paint scheme is and what the rock says. There are two that I pass on a regular basis. One is in China Grove and one is outside of Huntersville.
Almost every day, even on non-school days such as in summer, the boulders paint designs are different. I find this to be both poignant depressing and paradoxically encouraging.
These kids wait all year for their chance to paint their name, birthday, and design. All their friends help out. They stand there and admire it, and feel proud of their effort. Yet in a day or so, another kid will step up and do the same, effectively erasing the last kid’s special event.
This isn’t so much what I find depressing, however. What I find depressing is that this is a tradition for the kids, and a sort of anchor for their lives. In this day and age, we have so very few sacred and special acts that we perform. We are told that remembering historic events, honoring our ancestors, and praising our God and His works are passe. Modern people deserve to change traditions, They say, going so far as to make them unrecognizable from the originals. Everyone has their own interpretation of the tradition, and many people don’t even continue the tradition from year to year.
It’s also depressing that these kids will soon have to face the world woefully prepared, unaware of how to go out and find their own rocks to paint, so to speak. They will make their own way, striving against all odds, fighting against a society and a government that squelches one’s creative impulses. If they choose to give in to the pressure, they will live the same life as everyone else. Whether they like it or not. Will they even know they’re conforming to the sheep model? Or a better question, will they care?
I wonder how many people driving by think about the kids whose names and birthdays are on the boulder. Who will these kids turn out to be? What will they do with the life that they have been given? Will the day that they were painting their birthday on the rock be one of their best days, a highlight among a sea of mediocrity? How’s their home life? Will they have strong families when they grow up, or will they perpetuate a trend of crumbling family ties?
Someday, if the Lord tarries, archaeologists will dig up these painted rocks and wonder what this was about. Perhaps they’ll think these kids were princes and princesses. They’ll wonder why there are so many layers of paint. Or perhaps by this point in the future no one will care about history, because the people will be the outworkings of a society that scorned its origins and tried to rewrite history.
All the world is changing, yet for these kids, and even for us commuters driving by, we take comfort in the tradition of change as is regards birthday boulders. We know that a new name and design will appear. Like the changing of the seasons, it is different yet the same. It is spontaneous yet planned. We look forward to seeing the small burst of creativity every morning. While I look forward to seeing the new designs every day, I feel a pang of longing for those that have gone before.
I think perhaps we should all make a birthday boulder for ourselves. Not just one that commemorates the day of our birth, but one that commemorates our accomplishments and high points. One that encourages us to move forward and achieve more despite the times that it seems we’re pushing a boulder uphill, or burrowing through solid rock, or cowering under a rain of stones from our society.
But more than that, more than the boundary stones that our forefathers erected, or a stone of remembrance, we need the Solid Rock, the Chief Cornerstone that the builders rejected and that was not made with hands, the Rock of Israel, the One who is a stumbling block too many.
“But the LORD has been my stronghold, and my God the rock of my refuge.”
Author: LC Champlin
About me: Writer, traveler, adventurer, prepper. Lover of all things Geek and Dark. INTJ. I share my experiences because they can help you adapt, advance, and achieve.
I write fiction because the characters in my head have too much attitude to stay in my skull, I want to see the world through different eyes, and I want to live life through different souls.