There once was an old woman who was so poor,
she had nothing but the clothes on her back,
and a battered cooking pot.
One afternoon, her feet aching mercilessly,
her stomach a shrunken knot, she stopped by
the side of the road. The old woman hadn't
a clue what to do next. Her long life seemed
to be over.
On impulse, she filled her pot with water from
a nearby stream, and kindled a fire. When the
pot began to boil, she laughed at her own
"My final meal will be boiled water," she
cackled to herself. Then she looked down and saw a round stone by her feet. Delirious with
hunger, she bent over, picked up the stone,
and dropped it into the pot.
"Now I've got something to cook," she said to
A man passed by on the road. He stopped and
looked at the boiling pot. "What are you making?" he asked.
"Stone Soup," the old woman muttered. She
felt a zany inspiration rise up in her. "It's
an old family recipe. Much the best that you've ever tasted."
The man was intrigued. "If I wait here, can
I have some of the stone soup when it's ready?"
The old woman chuckled to herself. She made
an elaborate show of sampling a taste. "It's
not quite perfect yet. Needs a little salt
As it turned out, the passer-by had some
salt in a small bag in his coat pocket. He
poured some of the salt into the stone soup.
Then a farmer's wife came up the road, carrying a bulky sack of potatoes. "What's
cooking?" she sang out.
"Stone soup," said the old woman. "It's a
recipe passed down in our family from my
great-grandmother." The old woman dipped
in a spoon, tasted the soup, and smiled."It's good," she said, "But it wants some
The farmer's wife was glad to pitch in some
of her potatoes. Silently,the three strangers watched the pot boil.
And so it went! A butcher passed by in a
stained apron, carrying some lamb shanks he
had been unable to sell at the market. He,
too, inquired about the soup. When he learned
that the soup was mostly vegetables, the
butcher received permission to add his lamb
shanks to the boiling pot. In a few moments,
the soup had some meat on its bones.
A delicious smell rose into the air, and
attracted even more passers-by.
"What, you're not using celery or carrots?"
asked one man. "Here, have some of mine, fresh
from the garden."
Finally, the soup was ready, and the improbable feast was doled out to each person
in the crowd. They all agreed it was the best
soup they'd ever tasted. Each of them begged
the old woman for the recipe.
She patted her full stomach, and shook her
head slowly and gently. "All I will say is
that you must start with a secret ingredient,
a magic stone."
The moral of this story? For me, It's a reminder that if you start a project from
scratch, and appear to be creating something
appealingly different, resources will often
appear out of the blue.
The key elements are confidence, spontaneity,
a sense of humor, and a willingness to share
your bounty with others.
Some of you know exactly what I mean. You've
survived your own Dark Night of the Soul, and
created enduring monuments out of little more
than a magic stone and a deep need. It's something we all can do, if we let our
intuition guide us. Never forget that your
intentions have infinite organizing power.