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JODY PIKE, San Juan Capistrano

A year ago, The Capistrano Dispatch kindly published my letter praising our community for birthing a “Love and Kindness” rock snake along the horse trail on the hillside of our beautiful city. With the problems facing the world, our city, and our individual lives the painted messages of love, hope, kindness have been a bright light to the countless people who walk the trail and who contribute their own “love and kindness” rocks.

Beginning last October, neighbors were thrilled by this unique expression of joy. Dog walkers eagerly looked for new additions to the snake. Children brought simple rocks, slabbed with bright colors. Some rocks were works of art, made by people with amazing artistic ability. Messages of “Be Happy,” “Be Kind,” ”Give Joy,” “Happy Halloween,” “Merry Christmas,” and “Show Love” greeted everyone who walked or rode the trail. My grandchildren come to “visit” their rocks, eager to paint more. The snake has grown to an estimated 500 or 600 painted rocks.

When I wrote you last year I had no idea who had created this warm-hearted invitation to our community, the opportunity for anyone who wished, to express joy and kindness and contribute to the snake.

I have since learned that it was the idea, the creation and labor of a severely handicapped man, confined to a wheelchair by the unfair and crippling misfortune of cerebral palsy. Lovingly cared for by his sister, for over a year, he has been wheeled over the dusty bed of the horse trail to inspect and find joy in the continual growth of this gift he gave to the people of San Jan Capistrano. To see his smile, his means of communication, makes one doubly grateful to share in his contribution to our community.

Recently, I drove by the rock snake and it was gone.

Why, without any warning, was this growing message of hope and kindness and goodness completely wiped out?

A visit to the city revealed that “someone had protested” and had continued to protest until without any warning to the neighbors or citizens who had created the snake, in the matter of less than an hour, it was completely wiped out.

It is beyond comprehension that anyone could be so mean spirited as to summarily destroy one of the few positive, communal expressions of kindness and unity that we see in our troubled world, let alone our city.

One of the rocks bore the message “Forgive.” The person who protested over and over against the rock snake must be so unhappy, so damaged and must bear so much anger that his protest against life is to destroy the very spirit of happiness and love that appears to be lacking in his life. It is in the spirit of forgiveness that this letter is being written.

I speak for my neighbors, friends, and unknown children and adults when I express sadness at the hurt that the act of demolition has inflicted on the gentle man who created the snake, a man who has given our community a year of love and kindness.

The unhappy protestor has committed a heinous act. So, perhaps, has the city who demolished a symbol of goodness, one we know the world needs.

Last year I wrote extolling the joys of living in our community and the excitement and great spirit our Love and Kindness Snake has engendered.

For forty years of our living in and loving San Juan, this spirit has been here. Please, let’s not lose it.

Editor’s note: The city manager’s office confirmed city staff removed the “rock snake” after complaints and that the rocks have since been returned to the resident that had placed the “snake” along the trail. Councilmember Howard Hart reportedly has an item on the agenda for the Nov. 2 city council meeting that references the “rock snake.” More information is expected to be available following the meeting.

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