Monday, September 12, 2011

Stone Soup as Art Therapy

Once upon a time a shrewd villager was standing by the front door, enjoying the last of the day's sun. Along came a tired traveler just as the kettle began to whistle inside.

'Hello there', the traveler called. 'You've got a nice garden.'
'Hmm yes, the result of hard work.'
'Is that your kettle I hear? I'd love to join you in a cup of tea.'
The villager scowled: 'I'm not sure about that. Tea doesn't grow on trees.'
'Well if not tea, how about a nice bowl of soup?' The cheeky traveler responded, only receiving a deeper scowl in reply.

'Do you have such a thing as a nice smooth stone in your garden? I can tell you how to make soup from a stone.'

The scowl immediately lifted, and a gleam came into the villager's eye. 'Can you indeed. Here is a stone, and now what?'
'Well you need to wash it well, put it in water in a big pan on the stove, and perhaps shake in a little pepper and salt.'

This done, the traveler stood beside the stove gazing around the kitchen, and through the window to the vegetable garden with a speculative eye, while pretending to think hard.

'And now?' Prompted the villager.
'Well. I don't suppose you have such a thing as an onion, do you?'

You can guess the rest. The onion wasn't the last ingredient the villager 'happened' to have, and put in the pot. They sat down later together to a magnificent mixed vegetable and meat soup. Both were very pleased with themselves.

"Healing art is like magic soup. In the beginning there can seem to be nothing but the heaviness and unproductiveness of a stone. Giving ingredients can seem tiresome, ridiculous, dangerous: because a suggestion to make art is outside many people's normal way of being. An art therapist can make it seem straightforward and enjoyable do dip a paint brush in color, feel the clay, make a hand gesture, offer an image. These are the onion, gradually peeling open to revel its layers. No art gives answers. It does however present fascinating questions, the answering of which is an endless quest."

taken from the book: "Dying, Bereavement, and the Healing Arts" by Gillie Bolton

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