Stone Soup Cafe

I love Rob Brezsny’s Freewill Astrology. It’s the lovely prose that gets me, his insight into human nature and the way he gets you thinking about things you might not otherwise ponder.

Last week he had this to say to me:

“Do you want to know where all the power lies for you right now? It’s nowhere. Do you want to know what the nature of that power is? It’s nothing. But before you jump to conclusions about the meaning of what I just said, read this passage from Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching, translated by Stephen Mitchell: “We join spokes together in a wheel, but it is the center hole that makes the wagon move. We shape clay into a pot, but it is the emptiness inside that holds whatever we want. We hammer wood for a house, but it is the inner space that makes it livable.”

And it got me thinking about Stone Soup. Here’s how one person tells this universal story:

Once upon a time, somewhere in Eastern Europe, there was a great famine. People jealously hoarded whatever food they could find, hiding it even from their friends and neighbors. One day a peddler drove his wagon into a village, sold a few of his wares, and began asking questions as if he planned to stay for the night.

“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 peddler sniffed the “broth” and licked his lips in anticipation, hunger began to overcome their skepticism.

“Ahh,” the peddler 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. “Capital!” cried the peddler. “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 peddler a great deal of money for the magic stone, but he refused to sell and traveled on the next day. And from that time on, long after the famine had ended, they reminisced about the finest soup they’d ever had.

Which got me to thinking about how the cafe is a really a soup pot into which the whole community has contributed ingredients to make our Neighbour Soup.

And all I can add to that is a great big thank you to all the people who have contributed, invested, become stakeholders and loungers and visitors. (And even pajama-party, story-time people!)

You ARE the power.

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2 thoughts on “Stone Soup Cafe

  1. So I’ve been reading these marvelous blogs over on Vancouver Island and happen to be visiting my hometown of Hamilton – So where exactly is the cafe? I just have to see for myself.

    Thanks,
    R

    • Hi Rita, the cafe is located a 937 King St East, near Sherman Ave.
      The sign is still pending so it’s a little hard to find. We’re the red door on the left side of the Apollo Restaurant (lots of signage there!)
      Looking forward to meeting you!
      Rebecca

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