Stone Soup

Do you remember the story of stone soup?

There are many variations on the plot, but the main idea goes something like this:

A traveler stops for the evening at a village.  When the villagers are unable (or unwilling) to offer a meal to the hungry traveler, the traveler offers to make stone soup.  Filling a pot with water, he places a stone in the pot, lights a fire, and watches the water boil.  The villagers stop by, one by one, curious about this odd dish.  The traveler tells each disbelieving person how wonderful the soup will be when it is finished, but also then says: “It’s just a shame we don’t have a little bit of carrot (or potato or onion or meat), because stone soup is SO much better with that.”

To which the villager also replies: “But I have a little bit of carrot (or potato or onion or meat)!  Here it is–add this to the stone soup!”

By the end of the story, of course, a wonderful soup has been prepared, a soup not just based on a stone and boiling water but carrot and potato and onion and meat…

And all eat and are well satisfied.

It is a story of generosity amidst scarcity, the synergy of shared resources.  I think we’ve been experiencing that firsthand lately at the Chapel Center.  In recent weeks we have seen:

  • Parishioners from a neighboring parish brought a chipper shredder over and worked to clear a load of tree limbs and debris.
  • A group of parishioners from the same parish banded together to buy a new television for the Center.
  • The parents of one of our renters spent a Saturday working at the Center, creating a rather amazing new landscaping around our entrance.
  • Another renter’s grandfather persisted in his efforts to resolve a long standing plumbing issue.  (And, yes, the hot water now finally works in that shower!)
  • Cupboards and closets are gradually being emptied and cleaned in an ongoing effort to make a comfortable living space for all residents.
  • Our work list keeps growing but every time I add something to the list I find someone who says: “I can help with that–just let me know when.”

We had our first movie night at the Chapel Center a few weeks ago and watched “Babette’s Feast.”  (If you have not yet seen it, you must.  If you saw it years ago, watch it again.)  In the story, Babette wins a fortune through the lottery but chooses to use it all to prepare a meal for the villagers in the town where she had found sanctuary during the war.  When she offers to cook the dinner, her employers do not realize that she is a world renown chef.  Indeed, those partaking the meal (which is a metaphor for the Eucharist) do not fully understand what an amazing gift they are being given.

Like those simple villagers, I’m not sure that we always understand the gift we are given in the Eucharist.  But we take, eat, and are blessed.  And when the Spirit uses the carrots, potatos, onions, and bits of meat we bring to make stone soup into a meal, we take, eat, and are well blessed.

Amen & amen.

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