the action of listening

this story did not take place yesterday or today – it took place a long time ago when the animals still knew how to speak and before the stars had stopped singing. it was in a village not very unlike this one, when the times were very hard. famine ravaged the land and many families did not have enough to eat….
it was at this time, into this village that a strange man came, a magician who knew the limitless power of words…his beard was long and wild. in his left pocket lived an albino mouse…on his belt he wore a knife, a wooden flute, and a little leather sack.
the family watched in amazement as the mysterious stranger opened the leather pouch he carried at his waist and removed a stone, which he popped into the pot of water and then placed the pot on the fire, humming merrily as he did so.
“what are you doing?” a young child asked. “why are you boiling that stone?”
“oh, i’m making stone soup,” the magician explained….

and so the story begins. a remarkable story, part fable and all truth, contained in the book, Stone Soup: The Secret Recipe for Making Something from Nothing by Bill Liao. i was introduced to the book by two good friends, Bobby Chang and Yrmis Barroeta a few months ago and was shocked by it’s impact on my life.

the book captures the essence of how to tap into your greatest potential while recognizing your shared humanity and need to listen and serve our world. one of the more remarkable elements of the book was how similar the storyline follows much of our work as CTC International in Maai Mahiu, Kenya ( the book unpacks clearly the difficulties surrounding oneself when you follow the calling on your heart to join a community and live your life dedicated to serving, listening and creating alongside them to places of empowerment and restored identity.

i had the pleasure of talking with Bill Liao via skype last week. what an honor to share an hour with such a mind and spirit. we spent time listening to one another, about our endeavors and current projects. i’ll be honest it was intimidating talking with someone who has summited many obstacles and lived out the questions of self doubt and uncertainty so successfully. i found myself hungry to know more and to learn.

as i walk further and further down the path of life and the work that CTC has set out to accomplish it can often be so discouraging when faced with the realities of human nature, of people not living up to their commitments, of limited funding versus limitless needs. however, in the face of these difficulties it is reassuring to read a story like Stone Soup and to share time with it’s author Bill Liao gleaning from them nourishing concepts and ideals that remind me of how and why i started this journey, about persistence, determination and that listening is as important an action as building a school.

“imagination is the beginning of creation. you imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine, and at last you create what you will.” a quote in Stone Soup by George Bernard Shaw that encompasses much of the narrative and of life’s eternal challenge. are we able to will our imaginations and desires into creation? are we willing to risk and step out into the void of the uncreated space to become our deepest selves? as Stone Soup clearly shows this is no easy task and one that takes every ounce of ourselves to live passionately and consciously into the people we believe we can become and then live that self as an active participant into the global community that needs our voice.

big love,


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