For as long as I can remember I have had a strong craving for salt. As a child I would put it on bizarre things. Like apple pie. And dill pickles (as if they aren’t already salty enough!). Strangely, my mother wasn’t ever too concerned about it. She said she thought there must be something in my body that needed salt. Clearly she was not a twenty first century mom. Though, I’m thinking today, her intuition was probably correct.
My love affair with salt took all kinds of silly forms. Like collecting salt and pepper shakers. I have some doozies. I don’t display many of them anymore because, well, it’s almost politically incorrect to use salt. Unless it is one of those expensive fancy sea salts carried at cooking boutiques. Have you noticed? Salt has a pretty bad rap these days. There’s a restaurant I love to go to when I am in Houston but every time I have to ask for salt and, honestly, I feel shamed by the way they bring this little sprinkle of salt in a dish to me. Just bring me the dam salt shaker already! It may have been my imagination but, I’m pretty sure the server raised an eyebrow toward me the last time.
There’s a scripture in Matthew where Jesus reminds his hearers, you and me, about being the salt of the earth. He says if a salt loses its saltiness it is no longer flavorful. It doesn’t live up to its purpose. Here’s the thing. From what I can tell salt can’t lose it’s saltiness. It’s a part of what it is…salty. What in the world? Jesus was not one to deal in alternative facts so, what could he have possibly meant?
I did a little digging into salt. And, here’s what’s shaking. In ancient days salt was extremely valuable, even a currency of sorts. Sometimes salt was paid in exchange for slaves. Ever heard that saying, “not worth his weight in salt”? Well, now you know where that came from? And like me, you’ll probably never want to use the phrase again. If you are even old enough to have heard it in the first place!
Salt was valuable for its cleansing, preserving/ healing, and flavoring properties. I tried it on a pan in which I had cooked, well, overcooked an egg. And it worked! Sort of. I mixed it with some coconut oil and used it as a body scrub. I was smooth as silk and smelled like a tiki bar.
I remember whenever I had a sore throat as a child my dad would have me gargle salt water. And, as far as I can remember, my throat did feel better. Ever get in the water at the beach with a cut? Ouch. Painful healing at work.
And, I’ve already attested to how highly I regard the flavor of salt! When the time comes (Oh Lord, no!) for me to go to the nursing home I will want two things smuggled in to me. Salt. And, a glass of wine every now and then.
So, I’m wrestling with this notion of being salt, not just a salty attitude, but actually being salt.
When I think of people who I have considered being the salt of the earth (there’s another one of those old sayings) I think of someone who is authentic, transparent, and well, you know, what you see is what you get. Those kind of people who seem to welcome everyone into their presence. Like a big hug. I like those people. Their being comfortable in their own skin gives me permission to do the same.
Could that be what Jesus is saying? Be who you are? If I’m simply…myself…will that be enough? Enough to bring something clean and refreshing into the dirty callousness of the world? Will it be enough to bring a healing light in to the darkness of another? Is who I am enough? To add even a little flavor into my community?
It’s hard because there is a system in place that says BE MORE. Get more. Have more. Do more. There’s a system in place that communicates being something as simple and common as salt, as who we are, is not enough.
Could it be that this more message of the system is the actual falsehood? Maybe the truth is really that simple? And, that difficult.
It seems almost impossible that just being oneself could be enough. And yet, every time, every time I have tried to be someone, something else it all falls flat. Even, loses flavor. Have you ever noticed that?
Jesus knew he would be sending his disciples, his peeps, out into a world that would insist on more. He had spent time, energy, and love in reminding them who they were and teaching them the message of love he had entrusted to them. They were God breathed vessels of grace. Perhaps his message to them still holds its flavor for us today. Be you. Regardless of color, creed, and all of the other distinctions we set up for ourselves. Be the God breathed person you were created to be. A vessel of love. A vessel of grace. Because there is something in the body of humanity that needs who you are, who you were created to be. Each one of us. Essential. Be you. Be you. Be you.
Something to chew on…..