In one of my favourite children’s folk stories, Stone Soup, a tale is told of a poor beggar who arrives at a village, hungry and asking for something to eat.
“Not all of us can do great things, but we can all do small things with great love.”
In one of my favourite children’s folk stories, Stone Soup, a tale is told of a poor beggar who arrives at a village, hungry and asking for something to eat. The villagers, impoverished themselves, claim they do not have enough food to share with the man and he is sent away. Dejected, he leaves but then returns shortly with a cracked cooking pot, a stone and water from the creek. As he builds a fire to boil the water, he arouses the villagers’ curiosity. He explains to each person who stops by that he is making stone soup, a delicious and magical meal, and that it is almost ready for everyone to eat, but is just missing one thing (a little salt, a few potatoes, a bit of onion, a small carrot, etc.). Each villager eagerly contributes their one item, and soon they realize they have been cleverly tricked into creating a tasty pot of soup to nourish the whole village.
I love the simple “magic” of this story almost as much as I love a steaming bowl of soup on a crisp fall day. From the devastating news reports of desperate refugees literally dying for a new place to live, to the endless lists and emails of volunteer opportunities and needs coming home from church and school, it is easy to feel that there will never be enough of my time or resources to make any difference at all in the lives of other people. It is also easy to feel like I can’t say no, and that I need to do it all. Both of those reactions lead to giving up and burning out.
Give what we have
But just as I am reminded in 1 Corinthians 12 that I am just one part of a larger body working together, arranged perfectly by God in the place he needs me with the gifts he has given me, the story of Stone Soup is a refreshing perspective that sometimes all it takes is giving what I have, and allowing God to use the transforming power of community to turn it into something that will bless everyone. Each one of the villagers in the story believed the soup was only missing one ingredient – their item! This took away their fears of the overwhelming need, and freed them to give.
So, trusting that the whole solution is not your responsibility, what one thing can you give? Perhaps I can’t end homelessness in my city, but I can make a pot of soup for a family in need. And when I do, it will most likely be this hearty potato chowder. It doesn’t contain any stones, but it sure is satisfying!
Did you know?
Potatoes are becoming more and more important in the developing world. That’s because they’re an easy crop to grow. They yield more nutritious food, more quickly and on less land than any other crop.
Cheesy Corn and Ham Chowder
4 cups water
3 tsp chicken bouillon powder
3 peeled, cubed potatoes
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
¼ tsp black pepper
¼ cup butter
¼ cup flour
2 cups milk
2 cups shredded cheddar
19-oz can whole kernel corn
1.5 cups cubed cooked ham
Bring water, bouillon, potatoes, carrots, celery, onion and pepper to boil in a large soup pan, adding more water to cover vegetables if needed. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes until potatoes are tender. In the meantime, melt butter in a medium sauce pan. Blend in flour. Add milk all at once, cook over medium heat until thick and bubbly. Add cheese. Stir until melted. Pour cheese mixture into undrained, cooked vegetables. Simmer 15 minutes. Add corn and ham, and salt to taste, stirring occasionally and simmering another 15 minutes before serving.
Alternative: Use crisp, cooked bacon in place of ham.