I had thought we were pretty much through with the whole “summer rocks” thing, at least the number of painted rocks in our neighborhood found along our walking paths has diminished. But still, with the close of summer and the promise of fall waiting to be revealed, I have found a few more of these graphic stones worth sharing.
If you follow me on Instagram, I’ve posted as many of the better-painted ones that I could. Lately, however, there has been a resurgence of interest in them, or at least it seems like it. Perhaps a new artist has moved into the area and has taken up creating these small nuggets of encouragement.
Which got me to thinking about our desire to preserve words on stone.
For many, perhaps the first image to come to mind might be Charlton Heston in the role of Moses, walking down from Mount Sinai brandishing tablets of stone with the Ten Commandments inscribed upon them.
Another stone of great historical importance would be the Code of Hammurabi. A great black pillar of diorite standing more than seven feet tall, the Babylonian king had it inscribed with 282 laws which are one of the earliest and most complete written legal codes from ancient times. It was found in 1901 at the site of Susa in Iran.
The Rosetta Stone is another quite famous piece of granite.
While the top and middle groupings of text are Egyptian using hieroglyphic and Demotic scripts respectively, the bottom is in Ancient Greek. It was discovered in 1799 by the French during the Napoleonic Campaign in Egypt and became the key to deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphs.
In Washington DC, I would say that the text inscribed on the limestone walls of the Lincoln Memorial from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address powerfully capture the man’s heart for generations to read.
“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”
And not faraway, these words on Martin Luther Kings’s massive statue, caved out of pink granite, ring out: “Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.” According to the official National Park Service brochure for the Memorial, the fourteen inscriptions that were chosen to be placed on the inscription wall “stress four primary messages of Dr. King: justice, democracy, hope, and love.”
While hardly on the scale of these mighty stones of remembrance, the small rocks found in our neighborhood serve many of the same purposes, hoping to encourage, uplift, or remind us of timeless messages. Faith. Hope. Love. Be True. Be Steadfast. Be kind. Smile. You are terrific! Have a nice day!