Painted rocks sharing messages of hope, solidarity scattered by Lincoln congregation to honor essential workers

Members of St. Anne's in-the-Fields Church in Lincoln have been leaving river rocks with painted messages of hope in random places around their communities in an attempt to spread hope and to thank essential workers during this trying time of pandemic.

Hope Rocks Courtesy Photo A decorated rock rests in its new home.

Earlier in the spring, the Rev. Garrett Yates, the rector of St. Anne's in-the-Fields, had noticed a bag of river rocks sitting unused in a church supply closet, so senior warden Carol Carmody and her daughter Nelle painted the rocks with messages such as: Love wins; Stay positive; Persevere; Smile; It will be ok; Peace; and Have faith.

"We loved doing the 'Hope Rocks' as it gave us a way to bring encouraging words to many people we didn’t know," Carol Carmody said in an e-mail. "Ours went out on the trails of Lincoln, which have been so much more actively used as we all have sought 'safe' and healthy activities."

They packaged the painted rocks in bags and left them in a basket outside of the church, inviting members of the congregation to grab a bag from the basket and to place the rocks around their communities, such as at the end of driveways where walkers could see them, by mailboxes to thank delivery people or along a river path.

"I've been thinking about hope recently and all of the ways that we spread hope as a community, and I'm reminded that hope isn't just a feeling of optimism or a sentiment, it's something that's tangible, that's concrete, that's real - something we can hold onto," Yates said in a Facebook video introducing the project. "Tangible signs of hope that we can leave in various places around our communities, be it for essential workers, maybe at the grocery store, at the post office, be it for a friend or a grandparent--just a tangible sign of good cheer and hope from this community."

--Bridget K. Wood