The Caregiver Soupstone

Gary Barg - Editor-in-Chief, Today's Caregiver Magazine


I think there is no better time than the holiday season to revisit an old fable: The Soupstone. As with all great fables, this one starts with those famous words: Once upon a time…[Now that we got that out of the way, we can start the story.] ...there was a great famine in which people jealously hoarded whatever food they could find, even from friends and family. One day, a tired and hungry soldier came wandering into a village.

 "There's not a bite to eat in the whole province," he was told. "Better keep moving on."

 "Oh, I have everything I need," he said. "In fact, I was thinking of making some stone soup to share with all of you." He pulled an iron cauldron from his wagon, filled it with water, and built a fire under it. Then, with great ceremony, he drew an ordinary-looking stone from a velvet bag and dropped it into the water.

By now, hearing the rumor of food, most of the villagers had come to the square or watched from their windows. As the soldier sniffed the "broth" and licked his lips in anticipation, hunger began to overcome their skepticism.

"Ahh," the soldier said to himself rather loudly, "I do like a tasty stone soup. Of course, stone soup with cabbage—that's hard to beat."

Soon a villager approached hesitantly, holding a cabbage he'd retrieved from its hiding place, and added it to the pot. "You know, I once had stone soup with cabbage and a bit of salt beef as well, and it was fit for a king." The village butcher managed to find some salt beef . . . and so it went, through potatoes, onions, carrots, mushrooms, and so on, until there was indeed a delicious meal for all.

The villagers offered the soldier a great deal of money for the magic stone, but he refused to sell and left it with them as a parting gift. On his way to the next village, he scoured the countryside until he found another ordinary-looking stone which he placed in the velvet bag. The moral is that the magic is within us all. By working together, with everyone contributing what they can, a greater good is achieved.

As in our Caregiver Reverse Gift List, by detailing the tasks to be done, fearlessly asking for what we need from friends and family, and everyone doing their own small part, we can all work together to make a most delicious broth of support.


Gary Barg
Today's Caregiver magazine



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