The Magic of Stone Soup

Posted on 31 October 2019 by LeslieM

This is the time of year when many churches and other non-profits search for ideas to motivate their members to supply the resources they need to reach out and bring sustenance and comfort to the people they serve. My own search for ideas often leads to folk tales, such as one with the title Stone Soup. I’m sure you are wondering what a story with such a strange title can have to do with fund-raising – stick with me a few moments and I’ll try to make some sense of it for you.
The story concerns a weary traveler who sought food and comfort at a tiny village. He stopped at each of the homes along the main street, “Can you spare some food and lodging for a tired and hungry traveler?” Each of the villagers replied, “We are sorry, but we had a meager harvest and have barely enough food and blankets for our families. We don’t know how we will make it through the winter.” The traveler was discouraged and sat down under a tree in the village square. He felt his own hunger but also felt for the needs of the villagers.
Suddenly the traveler remembered the beautiful stone he had picked up along the way and put into his pocket. He gathered the villagers around him, “My friends, what you see in my hand is a beautiful stone that will feed you now and throughout the winter; with this stone you can make stone soup.” The villagers were unconvinced but banded together and brought a huge iron kettle to the traveler. They were astonished when he filled it with water and placed it over a roaring fire and gently immersed the stone into the boiling water.
The traveler sipped the brew, “Stone soup is better with a little bit of salt and pepper.” Several children ran and got salt and pepper. The traveler sipped again, “This stone makes a wonderful soup, but it would taste better if we had a few carrots.” One of the villagers spoke up, “I have some carrots I’m willing to share,” and his daughter ran and got them. “What about the cabbages I have in my pantry,” a woman asked, “would they help?” The traveler replied, “Yes, they would indeed!” The woman went home and quickly returned with the cabbages. The villagers spoke among themselves; they went to their homes and brought back potatoes, onions, barley, beef, and soon a wonderful aroma of stone soup hung over the village square.
The villagers set out tables in the square and brought large soup bowls, crusty bread and apple cider, enough for everyone. After they eat their fill, their talents for singing, dancing, and fiddle-playing was on display long into the evening. On the morrow, they gathered to bid good-bye to the traveler. A small child embraced him and whispered. “Don’t forget your magic stone.” The traveler replied, “I am leaving the stone with you. Why? because it not only fed you yesterday, and will feed you tomorrow, but it has shown you what is possible when you work together and share what you have.” With that he rode off and the villagers agreed the stone had accomplished everything the traveler had promised.
So . . what is the connection between making stone soup and having a successful stewardship drive? The answer is obvious. Both events only succeed when the participants are willing to pitch-in with their “treasure, time, and talents.” When that happens, the magic of the stone provides nourishment and comfort for all.
Rev. M. Tracy Smith, SSA, Rector is from the Saint Peter’s Anglican Church, 1416 SE 2 Terr., Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. For more information, call 954-695-0336. Wednesday: Holy Communion at 10 a.m., Sunday: Holy Communion at 10 a.m.

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