On the 46th day of the #SmileProjectRoadTrip, I was contacted by Kerry Dowdy, the lay pastor and Seminary Student at East Butler Presbyterian Church, near my hometown. She told me that she had recently preached a sermon where she talked about random acts of kindness and mentioned The Smile Project – which she had read about in a feature the local newspaper had done.
At that service, the guest musician, Sherry, mentioned to Kerry that she had started painting rocks and placing them in public places for people to find. Kerry told me they were creating a painted rock project to “bring some artwork in the form of rocks with a Christian message to folks around Butler, PA.”
Liz: Tell me about yourself and your project.
Kerry: My name is Kerry Dowdy and I am the lay pastor at East Butler Presbyterian Church in Butler, Pennsylvania. I am also a student at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. This project is Butler Painted Rocks #724 and we stem from the East Butler Presbyterian Church.
Liz: Give me a “Happiness is..”
Kerry: Happiness is showing others God’s love by sharing the good news of His son Jesus Christ.
Liz: What is your project and how are you spreading kindness?
Kerry: Painting rocks and putting the hashtag #724 on the back and then placing the rocks so that others may find them. The premise is that they will make a post with the hashtag so others can see the rocks being found and then place the rock for someone else to find and continue on the placing and finding. But even if they keep the rock – the gift of artwork has been shared!
Liz: Why are you inspired to do this?
Kerry: To spread Happiness to others by finding these pieces of art work among ordinary rocks in ordinary places.
Liz: What do you wish others knew about sharing smiles?
Kerry: That sharing smiles is easy and anyone can share a smile in their own way. There’s no limitations in how one can share a smile with others.
Liz: Do you have a favorite quote or a piece of advice?
Kerry: Look around – smiles are all around!
My favorite thing about Kerry and her church’s project is the simplicity. They are taking something natural and common – like a rock – and using it as a tool to promote kindness. When I do public speaking engagements, one of my favorite “lessons” to drive home is the idea that you don’t have to do anything insane to make a difference. You don’t need grandiose ideas or over the top actions. All you need is a heart for passion and a desire to make the world a better place.
In Kerry’s original email to me, she ended with “Thank you for the article in the Butler Eagle and your project that has started a painted rock project at our church.”
We don’t often see the ripples of our own actions. We rarely get to see what tangible impact we may leave on the lives of others – and that’s alright. But those small moments where someone reminds you why you started in the first place are one of life’s greatest blessings.
I wish Butler Painted Rocks #724 all the best as them embark on a journey of shared smiles and beautiful rocks.