Marianne Van Osch (Patrick Davies, 100 Mile Free Press photo)

Hidden rocks give hope for brighter days ahead

Marianne Van Osch’s weekly column

In this uncertain world, there are days when even the most Pollyanna of optimists must be downcast by the disheartening news that permeates our daily lives: the COVID-19 pandemic, the Delta variant, a strange and seemingly irrelevant election, protesters who rally against knowledge and common sense, climate change disasters.

Pollyanna is a fictional character who often said, “Most generally there is something about everything that you can be glad about if you keep hunting long enough to find it.”

Easily said but difficult to do when the reality of it all is detailed constantly on social media and in the news.

On one of those gloomy days, when the sky is the same colour as how I happened to be feeling, I thought I’d take a look at the new bird information boards at the 100 Mile Marsh. I parked near the old arena and walked toward the bridge over the marsh outflow. The grass had been cut but became longer and damper just above the reeds. I felt something under the flat sole of my shoe. It felt out of place as there were no stones in the smooth patches of grass and mud.

The rock I picked up is small, the size and almost the shape of a large egg. It is painted black. Across the larger end, the word “HOPE” floats in perfect, tiny yellow dots. Two of the dots on the “O” are bright pink. A yellow flower with narrow leaves, similar to a sunflower, is painted below. The word and flower shine against the black rock, like a light picture created by drones against a dark sky.

Finding that rock, at that moment in time, on such a hopeless feeling day was unbelievable as if it were put there for me to find. Its effect on me was amazing! Gone was the gloom. The world will survive. Young people will be fine. They will make their own way.

On July 25, 2021, the 100 Mile Free Press featured a story about a young woman, Loleeta Pollen Hofley, an artist who had painted many rocks with inspiring words and placed them around 100 Mile. She explained that she wanted to do something to encourage and lift up the spirits of people who were living in a town that was being smothered with wildfire smoke and with ongoing pandemic worries.

Hofley added that she hoped her idea would spread and other people would begin to paint rocks and leave encouraging messages around town. She also hoped that the rocks that are found are enjoyed and then moved on to a new location for someone else to find.

In ancient times rocks, stones, even mountains have been thought of as living entities. An early Greek culture worshipped plain, unadorned stones instead of images. The Ojibwa people believed that rocks symbolize strength and endurance. Some stones just feel right. Who hasn’t picked up a pebble on a beach and kept it in their pocket? Who hasn’t had a lucky stone? Some people polish rocks to bring out the inner beauty that all rocks have.

My HOPE rock is once again waiting to be found. It is in a rather obvious, easy-to-access place. If you find it, hold it and after you have felt its message for a while, put it somewhere new for someone else to find.

As you do so, you will feel so happy that you might just break out in song.

Monty Python’s “Always Look at the Bright Side of Life” would be perfect.

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