I’ve been introducing my 2 year old daughter to longer picture books when we sit in the big comfy rocking chair before she sleeps. She has been taking well to the longer reads, her attention span finally moving past the simple one-or-two-rhyming-words-per-page and very repetitive books like “One Bear, One Dog” and “Where Is Baby’s Belly Button?”
We sit twice per day, to cuddle, rock and read. Her current favorite is “The Cat in the Hat” by the infamous Dr. Seuss. She would honestly read it every time. But, while there is comfort in the predictable, I push her to try new things.
A few weeks ago I pulled Stone Soup, by Jon J. Muth off the bookshelf in my son’s room. This well known folktale spins a story of innocent deception to encourage generosity in a time of need.
Jon Muth’s version puts a twist on the tale. It is set in China, and three traveling monks visit a city where the residents have grown suspicious of each other, lock their doors at night, and keep their possessions held tightly to themselves.
The youngest monk asks the eldest “What makes one happy?”, and they define it through the simple act of making stone soup. The towns folk are curious about making soup out of stones and in an effort to learn the secret they add their own food to the soup pot.
Something magical began to happen among the villagers. As each person opened their heart to give, the next person gave even more. And as this happened, the soup grew richer and smelled more delicious.
With an enormous pot of delicious soup, the villagers and monks feast together, and a festival ensues. The people abandon their selfish ways, open their hearts to the neighbors, and joy and happiness flow freely from one person to the next.
My daughter has listened intently to this story several times now, and requests it periodically too. Recently I had to hold back tears as I read to her.
Because it hit me…I made my own stone soup.
Back in January I approached my life-long friend Emilie with the idea of co-creating an online healthy living magazine. To my delight Emilie was open to the idea. Something close to a million emails, several phone calls, and an enormous amount of work later we had named the magazine, created a mission statement, and laid the foundation of our vision. We got help with site design, we learned some code, we registered a business. We both worked very very hard.
On September 1, 2011 we launched Sparrow Magazine out into the world.
But the truth is, we didn’t create the magazine.
Our contributors created the magazine. They gave freely of themselves, their time, their creativity, their talents, their intimate stories. One article at a time. Adding new flavors, textures, ideas, experiences, illuminations. Just like in Stone Soup.
Our pot truly ran over.
Emilie and I simply set the stage. We put the idea out into the world and created the framework necessary to see it come to life. We solicited friends and strangers to write articles for Sparrow. And just about every single person we asked enthusiastically said yes.
Twenty one women and one man gave a piece of themselves to Sparrow Magazine. Having had the great pleasure of knowing or getting to know each of them, I know they would not see what they did as a big deal. They were truly happy to share their stories, their ideas, their inspirations.
I, on the other hand, am completely blown away, awed and humbled by each word, photograph, and moment of truth shared
And so, Sparrow Magazine is my stone soup. I didn’t use discrete deception, as the old folktale does. Instead, I simply asked. And I received, in more ways than I ever could have imagined. Definitely the best pot of soup I’ve ever made.