Saturday, November 09, 2013
It is an old one.
Seems a guy…or maybe it was a girl, wildhaired and dusty from her travels, or maybe it was an old guy, weary with memories of war & loss—but anyway, the wanderer came into the village.
Times had been pretty rough. Some of the crops that the villagers counted on had failed. Rain came at the wrong time, or rain didn’t come at all, or rain came in floods and sputters. Crops seeded when they shouldn’t. Crops molded as they stood. Those who thought they had good, prosperous work, were turned away. You could count the ribs on the village dogs and even the mice seemed thinner than usual and the town gossip was all about tragedy and loss, down the street, across the world. Didn’t matter.
They were for sure hurting.
The traveler had been on the road awhile & she was hungry. Or he was, or they were (maybe a band of kids, maybe a lonely man with a dog on a string and a pack on his back).
Oh, go away, cried the town folk. We ain’t got a crust to spare, and who do you think you are anyway, did you grow up here in the dry hills, were you born in this dust. We been here a long time, cried the town folk. A hundred years, or two years, more’n you. But you..you are new and the problem.
The town folk said yeah, you with the tangled hair, you with the packs, you with the wandering feet, you are ones to blame. You made the rains not fall or called them down. You seeded the crops. It’s you, you who make me want what I can’t have. You who are at fault that my love’s eyes seek someone else, that my house is falling around me, that the messages I get are only demands for payment, that my baby frets, that my heart aches.
We ain’t got nothing to spare.
But the traveler had a big cooking pot, and set it down in the public square. And some kid got some sticks. Or someone cooked up the propane or the magic heater, what do I know, it’s just an old story.
And asked for water.
Well, water’s not all that much, just a pailful. Someone brought it. And the wanderer took a fine round speckly stone, the sort that catches the sunlight, the kind that makes you think of summer nights and childhood, a good stone, and put it in the pot. Good thing, said the traveler, that I can make a fine, fine soup of water and this stone.
You do know the story, right?
And the wanderer tasted the delicious stone broth and said “oh, a bit of salt, and it would be perfect”. And then…a handful of parsley, a sprig of rosemary, some carrots, an onion…and so on.
The soup fed the whole village. And someone knew a song, and someone knew a story, and there were leftovers for the dogs too.
And they all realized…they did have something. They did have a bit to share, and together it was…well, it was soup. Or maybe (we can get all metaphorical if we like)..as each shared their gifts, it was community. It was home.
And the tangle haired stranger showed them the way.
Yeah, it’s only a story. But I think about it a lot.
(there has been a great deal of hatred directed towards the travelers and the poor in my area; I was thinking of that when I felt the need to write this little piece)