Beneath brush, rubble and brilliant sunshine at Central Park sits several brightly painted stones waiting to land on another person’s palm.
Where exactly they hide is anybody’s guess.
Not unlike Easter eggs, these eye-catching rocks share simple creeds. “Smile, you are loved,” says one. “Count your blessings,” says another. Perhaps one of these rocks lies nestled between twigs, adorned with just the image of a dainty flower.
Becky Yarberry, 53, and her granddaughter Rebecca Turner, 12, began finding, creating and hiding these stones about a year ago. She stumbled upon a Facebook group called “Ardmore Rocks!” last year that had a few dozens members who paint rocks, then disperse them solely to spread a smile across a stranger’s face.
Yarberry, coincidentally, had been battling a recurring brain tumor at the time. Originally diagnosed in 2005, she’s had to have surgery to remove the tumor three times.
Having always loved crafting and painting, the lighthearted activity came as a release and a way to spend time with her granddaughter.
“It was good therapy for me. There’s a lot of joy in spreading happiness in this way,” Yarberry said.
She and Rebecca source many of the rocks they decorate from the spillway at Lake Murray. They’ve not only hid them at Central Park, but have also stowed them around Ardmore Regional Park and many other areas.
Today, the pair are far from the only ones who participate in the hobby. The Facebook group has expanded from a handful to nearly 600 over the course of a year. Groups in Lone Grove and all the way up to Tulsa have also rocked out — in Oklahoma City more than 1,200 tease their stones, then tell their community to seek them out.
For Rebecca, she takes heart in spreading her message of “Jesus loves you” onto many of her rocks. One of her favorite stumbled-upon stones is one with ornate dots of several colors with one word scribed upon it: joy.
“For me, what I like about it is spreading joy,” Rebecca said. “And knowing that somebody will find them and hopefully feel happy.”