Many years ago, I heard an old folk story that had a tremendous impact on me. The origin of the story has military roots, but I saw the story much differently. I remember it well to this day, though with a far greater meaning than just a physical one. Father taught me that whatever we see in the physical, we can be sure there exists a greater reality in the spiritual, and that reality is Christ. This story took on a greater meaning in my eyes, because I could see the body of Christ within it. The Stone Soup Parable hid within my heart until this day, and time now comes calling for me to share it with you.
The Stone Soup Parable happened a long time ago, in an age without the internal combustion engine, without trains and without electronics. It was an age of simplicity, where village communities lived off the natural bounty of the land together.
After years of little rainfall, there came a famine upon the land. In village after village, the people appeared thin, gaunt and somber from malnourishment, barely surviving. The greater the hunger, the more people came to distrust one another. The more the villagers distrusted one another, the more they became isolated from one another, even though they saw each other in the village often. The villagers rarely spoke to one another, except for brief pleasantries in passing.
Pangs of hunger permeated the villages, like a fire spreads in the wind. Because of the desperate need for nourishment, the villagers thought that what they had individually, should be guarded and reserved. Each individual hid their portion of food, afraid to share because they thought they would have nothing for themselves and die of starvation. A lack of trust for one another and a reclusive fear of the unknown, divided and conquered. The villagers became unhealthy due to eating only what their individual blessing in the land provided. The people separated, unwilling to share their individual food portions.
Rumors began to sweep the land about the Traveler who went about from village to village. Everywhere he traveled he brought only an old, empty pot. Rumor had it that this Traveler appeared from out of nowhere, and somehow created food wherever he went. Of course, nobody believed in the Traveler rumors; it was utter nonsense, nothing more than a childish tale. The people became extremely leery of strangers, because they had been tricked in the past, and lost the use of the blessings in the land that supplied them nourishment.
One day, the Traveler actually came to a small village called The Living Stones, carrying nothing more than an old, black, empty, cooking pot, and a large stone, which he carried in a big leather pouch upon his back. The Traveler dressed in ordinary clothes, in fact, he seemed as ordinary as anyone else in the village, except that he had an apparently healthy and well-nourished body.
The Traveler walked in an easy, casual pace into The Living Stones village. He was a common man with kind, brown eyes and a gentle, knowing smile. The villagers peeked out quietly as the Traveler entered the village square. The Traveler stood in the middle of the square, turning his head slightly to look upon the village. As he looked around, the villagers saw upon his face, an unusual compassion, an overwhelming love seemed to gleam from his eyes. It was as if an uncommon peace surrounded him. The villagers began to ask themselves, “Could this be the Traveler we heard about? Could the Traveler rumors be true?” From this single thought the people became curious. They dared to grab hold of a new spark of hope in their hearts.
The Foundation Stone
The Traveler walked slowly down to the flowing stream carrying the big kettle. He then began to build a fire, right there in the middle of the village square, and sat the pot in the fire. The Traveler took the large stone from the leather pouch and laid it on the bottom of the pot. The Traveler knelt down and gazed upon the stone, watching the fire heat the waters to the boiling point.
A bold and tall young man with blond, straight hair and blue eyes walked up to the cooking pot and peeked inside. The young man then introduced himself to the Traveler, as Danny. Danny said to the Traveler, “Sir, I thought maybe you had food, but all I see is water and a large stone cooking in that pot. What are you going to eat?” The Traveler looked up at Danny and smiled as he said, “I am going to eat stone soup. If I had some potatoes it would taste much better. Would you like to join me?” Danny’s face displayed the shock he felt when the Traveler made the statement about the potatoes, because potatoes were just what Danny was hiding from everyone. Danny agreed to join the Traveler, but first ran back to get his potatoes to add to the soup.
The same thing happened with each villager. One by one, they came to look into the kettle to see the big stone, joining the Traveler and their friends. Soon, all were gathered together staring into the kettle at the large stone and all the ingredients that were added that day. Each villager had a great value to contribute to the stony soup, which had become a meal.
Together, they took the first taste of the stony soup. They ate a well-balanced meal because they had come together, each bringing their portion ─ a bountiful feast for the whole village. They thought that they were the poorest of the poor, because they could not see what they possessed together. In each village, where the Traveler went, The Stone Soup Parable is told, even today. For generations, the villagers continue in the way of the Traveler. The Traveler appears in communities throughout the earth, even Today.
Real Food and Real Drink
The body, every part, finds nourishment in food. It takes all the ingredients, all blessings, to have a full and well-balanced meal together. Each part must bring something to the table in order for the meal to be complete. There is a great famine in the land today, and many are hungry and alone. Christ draws out the Gift that each part of the body supplies for the nourishment of all. Fear not, because real food and real drink is Jesus Christ. Let’s not starve within the famine of individualism and isolation, but let’s live Christ, our Life.
The Eyes That See
The Traveler saw the bounty of Life in the villages. In each villager was the beauty of Life, the Gift of gifts, Life Himself, Jesus Christ. Seeing Christ in one another and gathering together to share Christ’s expression is the meal we long to eat.
Christ In You
Holy ones of Christ, I want to tell you something. Do you know that the love in Christ is so evident upon your faces that one must stop and stare until almost breathless, upon first meeting you dear saints? So magnificent are your faces, and your hearts, that I could just melt away. It is like that with all the holy precious ones in Christ, so much so, that I am humbled beyond the meaning of the word. I love to look upon your faces, because I see the face of Christ. And when I look into your eyes, I see the Light of Life. And when I hear your voices expressing Christ, I hear the voice of Christ. I never cease to be blown away by the awesome beauty of Christ in His saints. Words seem inadequate and meager when looking upon true Beauty, Christ in you.
The endless expressions of Christ are in and through His body. When we cannot see Christ in one another, we cannot see Christ.
February 23, 2012