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Meaningful Monuments: The Story of Rock Stacking Past and Present

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A New Trend Emerges

A curious trend has emerged here around our facility in recent weeks. In the spirit of traditional inukshuks, rock stacking has taken hold here at SCHC.

A Curious Construction

As more structures ascended, so too did their level of intricacy and sophistication. With each new structure, my fondness for them increased just a little bit more. What was it that I found so endearing or interesting about these little monuments? I couldn’t quite place it. I had to know more about why these structures have come to prominence in this corner of the world and now at SCHC. Why do we all like them so much? This is what I found…

Exploring the History of Rock Stacking

Inukshuks have become a symbol associated with Canada and the North in general. Inuit peoples used these balanced rock structures as navigation and communication aids that could be interpreted to designate anything from the location of a food cache to a place of spiritual significance. The term inukshuk means “to act in the capacity of a human”. Inukshuks have been found adjacent to archeological sites dating back to 2400 BCE.

We are all the Same

Woah, pretty mind blowing stuff. It is quite remarkable how much a simple act can say. It is an unequivocal and stark reminder that serves to connect past and present peoples – the beautiful and haunting contrast that they reveal is perhaps why they are so beloved and symbolic. Quite simply, to me, an inukshuk says – while separated by thousands of years, a human has once stood where you are standing now and took the time to create this perfectly balanced monument. That person faced different challenges and lead an unimaginably different life. Despite leading vastly different lives the similarities of our shared human experience are unmistakably clear. The feeling of connection is profound.

An Act says a Thousand Words

So, it got me wondering, what was the purpose or thought behind all these structures on site, in the here and now. Rather than wonder, I decided to ask. This was the response…

“Why I Stack Rocks”

One day while I was waiting for an appointment I pondered a lesson I had learned during one of the large group sessions we have every afternoon here at SCHC.

The lesson was about ways to find meaning and purpose in your life. One of the strategies presented was to find activities we used to love to do as a child and re-discover them. Where I was waiting there were some small terrariums of small plants and rocks. I remembered how I liked playing with rocks as a child and decided to try and stack some rocks while I waited. It was fun and it got me thinking about stacking larger rocks on the beach.

I now stack rocks almost every day. Sometimes the stacks stand for days or weeks and sometimes just hours. Like life and recovery, it takes regular work and maintenance to keep things upright especially after heavy winds and turbulent events. It takes work to stack and re-stack rocks and the stack will never be the same way twice. The point is it that it gets re-stacked. Like life, struggle and challenges will come, the important thing to remember is to keep on trying, seeking help and guidance. For failure only exists when you stop trying.

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I have received many comments from people who enjoy walking by and seeing the rock stacks I have built. I often stack rocks with others and in conversations I have realized that there is more significance to this activity due to its relevance in history. This has added even more meaning and purpose to this rock stacking hobby.

SCHC, like the rock stacks, can serve as a guide to those who are desiring and yearning for ways to add wholesomeness to their lives and a sense of engaged presence, with ears to hear and eyes to see. I came here looking and listening, needing help and guidance. Every person here at the Centre is like a rock stack, all unique and all with something to share to help you on your journey.

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The stacking of rocks and creating inukshuks is therapeutic and symbolizes creation, this in turn helps others while helping oneself. It is for this reason that I stack rocks.

I encourage you to give rock stacking a try. Whether the rocks are big or small does not matter. Instead, like so many things in life, what matters is finding a way to make action happen.

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