Tuesday, September 27, 2011

day #350 Stone Soup

I subscribe to an e-service called the Daily Om. Each day I receive an inspirational email, and I particularly enjoyed this one from a couple of days ago. Years ago I read the children’s book, Stone Soup by Marcia Brown, without realizing that it was based on a very old folk tale that seems to have shown up in the oral traditions of many countries.

Here’s what the Daily Om said about it. The first paragraph summarizes the story. The second paragraph is what I really want to share with you, though.

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 he wants them to give him food. They tell him in no uncertain terms that there's 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, dropping 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 share. 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 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. As the story of stone soup reveals, in doing so, we often deprive ourselves and 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 to them to ourselves, when in truth we make the world, and ourselves, poorer whenever we greedily stockpile our reserves. The traveler was able to see that the villagers were holding back, and he had the genius to draw them out and inspire them to give, thus creating a spread that none of them could have created alone.

I have to admit, I’ve always thought that this was what really happened with the loaves and the fishes—people were drawn out of their self-centered hording, and all were fed with plenty left over. And that is a miracle indeed.

This is what the bees do. They make enough honey for themselves, but then they keep right on producing. It’s the excess honey, honey the hive doesn’t need but creates anyway, that beekeepers take. I’m going to think about that the next time I spread honey on my biscuits. And I’m planning to share the honey I’ll get from my hives.

I’ll be getting that honey because Rob Alexander, who could easily have kept every bit of honey from those hives of mine that he’ll be tending at Rancho Alegre, told me he’d give me back half of the excess honey they produce. My own sweet Stone Soup.

BEEattitude for Day # 350:
       Blessed are those who share our honey, for they shall have lives filled with sweetness.

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