All towns have evidence of their history. Especially if you live in New England like I do, your town is bound to have a tavern, a one-room schoolhouse, or a white wooden church with a tall steeple. My town has all those things, but my favorite testament to our history is a big rock.
This rock sits at a three-way stop on an often-traveled route. It’s set back a bit from the road, nestled at the edge of a woods, but clearly visible to all passers-by. Rocks, as a rule, take millions of years to change, but our rock changes constantly. Most rocks are rather inconspicuous. Our rock begs to be seen…and heard.
The rock on the corner is a canvas for the teens of our community to share their voices. Over its many years, it has celebrated the start of school, sports achievements, and birthdays. It’s said goodbye to those who have moved away, or to those who have died too young. It has comforted, congratulated, and remembered. Its messages are positive, affirming, encouraging, supporting, and uniting.
Young adults don’t always feel heard. They don’t get enough credit for their positivity. But this town rock of ours, even if it does change under cover of darkness by anonymous hands, gives them an opportunity to dare to share what’s important to them for the world to hear.
I’m not sure when the rock-painting tradition started, but as long as I’ve lived here, the rock has been a constantly changing mouthpiece for our town’s young adults. I can imagine its measurable layers of color, love, support, and hope. Each daring share has swelled a simple rock into an archive of young voices.