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 that he wants them to give him food. They tell him in no uncertain terms that there is 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 and drops 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 add to the soup. 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, especially in times of deprivation. When resources are scarce, we pull back and put all of our energy into self-preservation. We isolate ourselves and shut out others. It’s a biological reality, too. Individual cells in the body can either preserve or expand. However, the cell uses all of its resources to do one or the other. It can’t do both.
As individuals, we are more than a single cell of the body. Metaphorically, we are individual cells of a community, yet much more complex, with many more resources available.
Several experiments have proven that we actually change the composition of the cells in our body by thinking differently. By focusing on certain thoughts and feeling certain feelings, we change our body’s chemistry and the environment around the cell. We create the environment for the cell in which it makes its choices. As far as biologists can tell, the cell reacts to its environment, and it changes according to its survival requirements. We have choice, indeed many choices, and in our choosing, we create the environment in which our cells “choose” to survive. We choose our reactions to a world we have created. This is a closed-loop system in which we live, move and have being, and in which we choose how we will live, move and have our being.
“Stone Soup & Letting Loose” is not about survival. It’s about thrival. It’s about claiming the bounty we are made from and live in, the bounty of choice. It is about making choices from the awareness that abundance is our nature, and that Good fills our world.
The Stone Soup story reveals that by focusing on deprivation and lack, we deprive ourselves, and often everyone else, of a feast. This metaphor plays out beyond the realm of food. We hoard ideas, love and energy, thinking we will be richer if we keep them to ourselves, when in truth we make the world and ourselves poorer whenever we greedily stockpile our reserves. The traveler was able to perceive that the villagers were holding back, and he had the genius to draw them out and inspire them to give, thus creating a celebratory spread that none of them could, or in their state of mind, would have created alone.
Are you like one of the villagers, holding back in your world? Come forward and share your gifts. You will inspire others to do the same, and the reward is a banquet that will nourish many.