A man had to walk across a desert. Hungry and thirsty he eventually came to a small village and asked the villagers if he could have something to eat and drink. Unfortunately for him, one by one the villagers told the man “Sorry – the harvest was bad and I barely have enough for my own family.”
Hungry, thirsty and discouraged the man sat down under a tree. Suddenly an idea occurred to him. He searched and found a stone and called the villagers over to him in a loud voice.
“Friends, your worries are over. I have in my hand a special stone that will greatly improve your lot in life. This is a magic stone. With it you can make stone soup.”
“Stone soup?” an old man repeated. “I have never heard of stone soup.” “The wonder of stone soup,” the stranger continued, “is that it not only feeds hungry people, it also brings people together. Now who has the largest empty pot?”
Quickly a huge iron pot was found. “The pot is barely large enough, but it will do,” the stranger said. “Now we must fill the pot with water and start a fire.”
The intrigued villagers brought water and firewood. As the water began to boil the stranger dramatically raised the magic stone above his head, and then he gently placed it in the pot.
“Stone soup needs salt and pepper,” the stranger announced. Two children ran to find salt and pepper. After the water had boiled for few minutes the stranger sipped the brew. “This stone makes an excellent soup, but it would be better if we had a few carrots.”
“We have a few carrots that we’re willing to share,” a farmer replied. Immediately his daughter ran home and returned with an apron full of carrots.
“It’s a shame the harvest was so bad,” said the stranger. “Stone soup always tastes better if you add a cabbage or two.” “I think I know where to find a cabbage,” a young mother shouted as she dashed towards her home.
“The last time I made stone soup was at the castle of a rich man. He added a few potatoes and a bit of beef.”
Several people talked quietly, “A bit of beef and we can eat like rich people”, they whispered. They went home and soon returned not only with beef and potatoes, but some brought milk, onions and barley too.
By the time the soup was ready it was almost dark. The aroma of the stone soup was so enticing the villagers couldn’t wait to taste it. The stranger finally declared that it was done and invited everyone to have as much as they could eat. The villagers ate and had a lovely time together! It was an evening they would never forget.
The next morning the whole village gathered to say goodbye to the stranger. As he was leaving a small child called out, “You forgot to take your magic stone!”
The stranger smiled. “I am going to leave the stone with you as gift of gratitude for your hospitality,” he said. “Remember, as long as you make stone soup, you will never have to worry about being hungry.”
Rev Andy Clark