Stone SoupBY MADISYN TAYLOR
Imagine a world in which we all shared our gifts and bounty with each other rather than focusing on self preservation.
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.
Are you like one of the villagers, holding back? If you come forward and share your gifts, you will inspire others to do the same. The reward is a banquet that can nourish many.
Importance Of ForgivenessBY MADISYN TAYLOR
In order to forgive we need to stop identifying ourselves with the suffering that was caused us.
When someone has hurt us, consciously or unconsciously, one of the most difficult things we have to face in resolving the situation is the act of forgiveness. Sometimes it feels like it’s easier not to forgive and that the answer is to simply cut the person in question out of our lives. In some cases, ending the relationship may be the right thing to do, but even in that case, we will only be free if we have truly forgiven. If we harbor bitterness in our hearts against anyone, we only hurt ourselves because we are the ones harboring the bitterness. Choosing to forgive is choosing to alleviate ourselves of that burden, choosing to be free of the past, and choosing not to perceive ourselves as victims.
One of the reasons that forgiveness can be so challenging is that we feel we are condoning the actions of the person who caused our suffering, but this is a misunderstanding of what is required. In order to forgive, we simply need to get to a place where we are ready to stop identifying ourselves with the suffering that was caused us. Forgiveness is something we do for ourselves, and our forgiveness of others is an extension of our readiness to let go of our own pain. Getting to this point begins with fully accepting what has happened. Through this acceptance, we allow ourselves to feel and process our emotions.
It can be helpful to articulate our feelings in writing over a period of days or even weeks. As we allow ourselves to say what we need to say and ask for what we need to heal, we will find that this changes each day. It may be confusing, but it is a sign of progress. At times we may feel as if we are slogging uphill through dense mud and thick trees, getting nowhere. If we keep going, however, we will reach a summit and see clearly that we are finally free of the past. From here, we recognize that suffering comes from suffering, and compassion for those who have hurt us naturally arises, enhancing our new perspective.