Monday, June 22, 2009

A Stone Soup Weekend

The Wisdom of Sharing

There are many variations on the story of Stone Soup, but they all involve a traveler coming into a town beset by famine.

The inhabitants try to discourage the traveler from staying, fearing he wants them to give him food. They tell him in no uncertain terms that there's no food anywhere to be found. The traveler explains that he doesn't need any food and that, in fact, he was planning to make a soup to share with all of them.

The villagers watch suspiciously as he builds a fire and fills a cauldron with water. With great ceremony, he pulls a stone from a bag, dropping the stone into the pot of water.

He sniffs the brew extravagantly and exclaims how delicious Stone Soup is.

As the villagers begin to show interest, he mentions how good the soup would be with just a little cabbage in it.

A villager brings out a cabbage to share, and this episode repeats itself until the soup has cabbage, carrots, onions, and beets - indeed, a substantial soup that feeds everyone in the village.

This story addresses the human tendency to hoard in times of deprivation, and we are in times of deprivation now, both financially and spiritually.

When resources are scarce, we tend to pull back and put all of our energy into self-preservation. We isolate ourselves and shut out others.

As the story of Stone Soup reveals, in doing so, we often deprive ourselves and everyone else of a feast. This metaphor plays out beyond the realm of food. We tend to hoard our ideas, our love, and our energy, thinking we will be richer if we keep to them to ourselves.

Truth being, however, that we make the world, and ourselves, poorer whenever we greedily stockpile our reserves.

The traveler was able to see that the villagers were holding back, and he had the genius to draw them out and inspire them to give, thus creating a meal that none of them could have created alone.

We have to ask "who is this traveller?".

I travelled this weekend to Holy Cross Monastery with a dear friend who inspires great thoughts in me.

Once again, I learned the greatness of the gift of sharing, and the Benedictine example of doing for others.

Our meals there were beyond comparison. Everyting was plentiful and gracious.

We wanted for nothing at all.

One of our meals was an amazing Curried Chicken Stew, which was well recieved.

One of the Brothers comments that "the chef will be pleased to see an empty bowl".

Are we like the villagers?

Are we holding back?

When we come forward and share our gifts, we inspire others to do the same.

The reward is a banquet that can nourish many.

During the train ride home, I commented to my companion that I must have gained at least 5 pounds from the genorosity of the Brotherhood.

In retrospect, I would say that I gained just shy of triple that ... 14 pounds - one stone, in old English measures.

Of course, that stone that I gained is not in weight, but in love & spirit. I left there with one stone's worth of love to share.

A beloved friend of mine from Mexico City died recently at the tender age of 25.

When I last saw him, he gave me a small blue stone at the airport after calling me back from the gate.

He asked me to keep it in my pocket, as his Grandmother gave it to him when he was a child.

It was for blessings for a safe journey.

Not just a safe journey through the skies, but through life.

I still carry that stone in my pocket.

It painfully reminds me of Miguel, who was full of life and love, but it also serves to remind me of the love that he and we have to share with one another. If not for any other reason, it is to justify his brief being and continue his God given spirit.

We may travel through life with a stone's weight, which is burdensome.

We may even choose to carry a stone in our pocket, or a pebble in our shoe, to remind us of life's burdens.

However, it is when we share that stone, those 14 proverbial pounds in our pocket, that we call others to share in our Soup, and we all become a well nourished community.

Do you see?

Together, we can make Stone Soup.

With love & light,



  1. Thank you for reminding us of the story of stone soup. It is so full of hope...


  2. Thanks Ginny ... it's one of my favorite stories from choldhood and I forgot about it. Of course Stone Soup at Holy Cross is prepared by culinary experts, but that's their secret!