Stone Soup – A Lesson through the Ages
“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.” Maya Angelou
Today, I was reminded of a lesson from years ago. It was a story told in my oldest son’s kindergarten class. Even now, after having heard the story many times, it always takes my mind on a gentle journey pausing momentarily to remember with great fondness the times in my life when large groups of family, friends, co-workers, came together to do something grand… help someone in need. Once, I’ve returned from the trip down memory lane, I think about the future and all that could be done to help so many.
The story, I want to share with you is the story of Stone Soup. Many of you may have heard it. Its origins date back to the 1700’s and there are many versions of it, but the moral of the story never changes. This, my friends, is truly a lesson through the ages.
A kindly, old stranger was out walking when he came upon a small country town. As he entered on foot, toting a large bag hung on a stick over his shoulder, the folks moved toward their homes, locking the doors and windows behind them.
The stranger smiled and asked, “Why are you all so frightened. I am a simple traveler, looking for a soft place to stay for the night and a warm place for a meal”.
“There’s not a bite to eat in the whole town,” he was told. “We are poor, and our children are starving. Better keep moving on,” an elderly man exclaimed from his porch.
“Oh, I have everything I need,” he said. “In fact, I was thinking of making some stone soup to share with all of you.” He pulled an iron cauldron from his pack, walked to the old hand-water pump, filled it with water, and began to build a fire under it.
Then, with great enthusiasm, he drew an ordinary-looking stone from a blue silken bag and dropped it into the water. He threw in a pinch of salt and a big dash of pepper and started stirring his stone soup.
The townspeople, who had been watching from their windows, slowly began to come out of their homes. None of them had ever seen such foolishness as stone soup. As the stranger sniffed the soup and licked his lips in anticipation, hunger began to overcome their fear.
“Ahh,” the stranger said to himself rather loudly, “I do like a tasty stone soup. Of course, stone soup with potatoes… that’s hard to beat.”
Soon a villager approached hesitantly, holding a few nice sized potatoes he’d retrieved from its hiding place, and added it to the pot.
“Wonderful!!” cried the stranger. “You know, I once had stone soup with potatoes and a few carrots as well, and it was fit for a king.”
A mother of three small children came walking from her porch with the children clinging to her dress. From her apron, she pulled three carrots and handed them to the stranger. The stranger smiled as he thanked her and broke the carrots into pieces and dumped them in the boiling pot.
The townspeople gathered around the boiling pot and closed their eyes as they inhaled the essence of the stone soup.
“You know, I once had stone soup with potatoes, a few carrots, and some onion…. You couldn’t beat that with a stick!” the stranger exclaimed.
An elderly grandmother let go of her grandson’s hand and he sped across the field to their house. He wasn’t gone a split second until he returned with a handful of onions. The stranger smiled and dropped them into the pot and gave it a quick stir.
“You know, I once had stone soup with potatoes, a few carrots, some onion, and a nice slab of beef…. Best stone soup you ever put in your mouth,” the stranger shook his head as he licked his lips.
The towns butcher managed to find a small slab of beef . . . And so, in it went with the potatoes, onions, and carrots, until there was indeed a delicious meal for everyone in the town to share. None of the townspeople could believe how wonderful and filling that special stone soup was.
The town mayor offered the stranger a great deal of money for the magic stone, but he refused to sell it and traveled on the next day.
As he left, the stranger came upon a group of children standing near the road. He gave the silken bag containing the stone to the youngest child, and whispered to the group, “It was not the stone, but the townspeople that had performed the magic.”
Moral: By working together, with everyone contributing what they can, a greater good is achieved.
We made this stone soup in that kindergarten class many years ago and the children loved it. They loved the soup, they loved the story, they loved that learning to help others made them feel really good inside.
Share this story with your children, your grandchildren, and even the neighborhood children. It truly takes a village these days and teaching a lesson that has truly survived the ages is a wonderful way to inspire people to work together for the greater good.
Author: Belinda Davis ©2018