Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Stone Soup

We packed stones in our suitcases.

OK, not real stones, but pieces of gray and brown paper, some new and some recycled, all suitable for making stones.  We prepared our stones, cutting rounded and irregular shapes from the paper, pasting an invitation to the back of each stone, and marking a J, E, S, Ú or S on each front.  Then, we went out walking.


We stopped at each home in our sister community, asking permission to enter, greeting one another, sharing a few stories and praying together.  Then we asked, "Do you know the story of stone soup?" 

We shared the story together, bringing out a paper stone at each home.  The invitation was to join us in making stone soup.

On Saturday, the invitation called for a pilgrimage to the river.  The tradition of celebrating baptism, first communion and confirmation together was strong, and the act of making a pilgrimage to a special location was a way in which to include all who wished to participate, even those who felt a little shy about entering the Lutheran Church.  Because the river was dry and the weather was extremely hot, a few of the young men in the community had built a little champita - a roof of palm branches held up by bamboo poles to provide a bit of shade over the altar.  We sang.  We prayed.  We shared the sacraments and celebrated with the adults, teens and little ones who were named as children of God and with the teenage boy who experienced Holy Communion for the first time.  Then each person was invited to bring his or her gift to the altar - a fruit, some grass, flowers, a bit of ribbon, whatever he or she wished to give.  The gifts were simple and abundant -- I held out my skirt as people placed their gifts into it like a basket.  This was the gathering of the ingredients for the stone soup.

Saturday night we made a loom from some branches and yarn.  On Sunday morning, the Sunday School children gathered for their lesson.  As the loom was brought forth, the children wove and tied all the gifts to it, occasionally running outside to gather more leaves and pieces of grass and working together until they had created a beautiful piece of art.  This was the mixing of the stone soup.

In the afternoon, families came to the community center for worship and a shared meal.  People brought their stones, taping them to the wall...spelling out JESÚS.  Youth read the scriptures.  Guitar and recorder players and singers made music.  It was a grand celebration of the coming together as the body of Christ, each sharing his or her unique gift for the benefit of all.  This was the eating of the stone soup.


The paper stones have long since fallen from the wall, the leaves and flowers from the artistic weaving have long since dried up, but in a special spot in my house I have a simple tecomate, decorated with a blue ribbon and tiny red roses, a lasting taste of the stone soup and a reminder that God creates miracles and beauty when we are together.

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