a matter of taste

On Easter Sunday our five year old granddaughter, Eloise, took her first communion at the Episcopal church where they belong and Tom and I are presently attending with them. She could have taken it earlier but she and her parents had really wanted it to be special and Easter Sunday seemed like the perfect moment to partake at the table!

Always before she would approach the alter, kneel, and bow her head over her hands, waiting for a blessing. Watching her do that was beautiful, sweet, endearing.  The priest would kneel down, touching her head and bless this little angel. And from the look on the priest’s face, he thought it was a sweet as I, and the rest of her family always did.

This was such a routine on Sundays that on this Easter Sunday when she kneeled,  holding her head high, and extending her open palms I noticed the surprise on the priest’s face as Eloise jolted him from routine. His surprise was quickly replaced with a grin as he gave her the bread of heaven. When the cup came by she dipped the wafer into the wine and put it in her mouth. What a special moment! Something the Episcopal tradition does every single Sunday, and yet, this particular Sunday seemed to me like such a momentous occasion as Eloise made this rite of passage in the family of faith.

On the way home Eloise was asked how she liked taking communion after all this wait.

“I liked the chip but I didn’t like the dip.”

She also told her mom that she had to ball the wafer up in her mouth just to be able to swallow it. When I heard this I realized I too usually have to maneuver it around a bit before I can swallow those dry cardboard like discs. Why do we grownups lose this level of transparent honesty?

I’m not sure if Eloise is all that excited about taking communion now. Not sure if it was all she had built it up to be in her mind. It occurs to me that many things in life are like that. How often the anticipation is greater than the actual event.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot since Easter. The big feast of God, a central point of our Christian worship. The coming to the table in remembrance and celebration of the sacrificial love of Christ until he comes again. The participating together of this beautiful body of love. Shouldn’t an event of this proportion be greater than what we imagine? Every single time?

One of the things I was most looking forward to in being ordained as a Presbyterian Minister of Word and Sacrament was being able to preside over communion. To be able to tell the story of the night Jesus was betrayed when he shared a simple meal with his disciples, one that was steeped in eternal love and significance. The anticipation of being able to do that paled compared to the worshipful experience it has been to actually be able to share this moment with a congregation. Or, with a group at a retreat. Or, anytime I get the chance to serve “the meal”.

Not long ago, the Thursday study group I have mentioned before changed meeting locations for one meeting from my house to the home of our beloved friend who has been fighting pancreatic cancer for over a year now. I’ve told you about her before. How she loves to dance. How she didn’t let a little chemo bag and bald head keep her from coming to our group. She has been an inspiration of joy in the face of difficulty for all of us. Since she had also suffered a major stroke recently and was unable to move the left side of her body she invited us all to her house for this particular Thursday so that she could be a part of the study that day. When I got there her sister had taken care of everything that this woman would have normally done, coffee and cookies, served on china. We were all touched at the generous hospitality she showed us. We all sensed this was a significant and bittersweet moment for the group, and no one took it for granted.

I’d had a last minute thought on the way to her house that we should celebrate communion together. So, I’d stopped at the grocery store for Hawaiian bread (because I was determined it should taste sweet not pasty), grape juice (like a good Presbyterian, although I debated myself on this) and dixie cups. The kind you put in a child’s bathroom for them to use when brushing their teeth.

I was clumsy as I presided over and served this meal but it may have been the most significant communion in my ministry history. We were gathered, Catholic, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, and NonDenominational. Gathered in the love of Christ. And, the love of our friend. And, everyone partook! Our hostess said something about how it had tasted good, and how it should taste good. Truer words were never spoken.

It will be a long time, maybe never, before I don’t think of her when I take communion. She’s on hospice now and is on the suffering road home. I went to see her yesterday to pray for her but she was too sick when I got there. I prayed with her husband. Most likely I won’t be able to see her again. But, I will always see her in my heart.

The thing is, she is right. It should taste good! It should be a feast like no other. I’ve always thought this but I’m convinced more than ever now.

 I used to lead a communion and prayer service on Wednesday evenings at one church where I served. I got this hair brained idea that I would try a different kind of bread each week. One week cheese bread. Another week challa (Jewish ceremonial bread). One week it was rye, which was a bit of a mistake as it got stuck in some peoples’ throats. People were patient with me. But,the point was, I thought our communal experience of God’s grace should be something with taste. Something to satisfy hunger, both physical and spiritual.

At another church I served, one Sunday the person responsible for bringing the elements forgot to bring the bread. She was regretful and nervous to tell me. We were having a luncheon that day so I asked what we had available. Someone had brought baklava, a filo filled pastry filled with nuts and honey. Have you ever had baklava? Tastes like heaven! It was the best tasting communion ever. People came forward to receive the “bread” and dip it into the cup (that’s called intinction) and it made me smile, really big, to see them walk away, licking their fingers and grinning. Oh sure, there were a few ruffled feathers. But, really, how can you not like baklava. And, I was an interim pastor so they knew I wouldn’t be there long.

I mean no disrespect against the worship practices in any tradition by any of my observations . It’s just that life, and faith, and our love for grandchildren and beloved friends who are ill, and the strangers we worship with….it’s all mixed up together. And shouldn’t we do what we can to bring the goodness of all it to the surface? To make life as palatable as we can for one another? To make our worship as meaningful and fulfilling as possible? In doing so, I think we get a little closer to what Jesus was talking about that night he fed his disciples. If we are commanded to share these meals in remembrance of Christ, shouldn’t they really taste like the feast of God for the people of God? The feast of our lives. To be shared. In love.

So, I’m determined, if I have the honor to serve another church again as their pastor, we will have baklava. Or, at least, good tasting bread. And, I am fairly confident my granddaughter will like it a lot better.

May your worship and life and loves be sweet to the taste and fulfilling always.

Something to chew on…

Painted in Waterlogue

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a little night cha cha

I suppose it started when I was about three. When I started taking dance. And, of course, when you’re three you perform. For all. Right there in the living room. Or, in the high school auditorium where the recital took place. For as long as I can remember I have loved to dance. All kinds. Anytime, anywhere.

I took tap, ballet and jazz. My specialty was tap. Did my first solo at 5. I was a crow dancing among scare crows. I’ve got a picture somewhere. I remember they had to make my costume a little lower in the back to cover my cheeks. There was quite a bit of discussion about this. Still holds true.

When I was in the fourth grade I did a duet. With a drummer. He would drum the beat and I would follow in my tap shoes. It was a precursor to Dueling Banjos. He was a college guy. I, a peep squeak. But, I felt really cool. Until I saw a picture from the recital of the pin curls in my hair.

That next fall I started helping to teach a little. I was in my element and thought myself quite a prodigy. In January we moved to Houston from Lubbock. The big city turned out to be quite a bit more sophisticated. No more tap. Only ballet. Oh, there was some studio in town that taught tap but my mom found this one more acceptable. The other one was owned by the mother of Patrick Swayze…and he was the star student!! Who knows what might have happened.

Anyway, turns out I was not sophisticated enough for ballet. Not graceful enough I suppose. I kept taking ballet and then jazz until my senior year in high school but it never was quite the same. I missed my tap rhythms….I became part of the chorus. I was a fern among the flowers. Literally, in the recital.

One of my most favorite memories as a young child was of my parents rolling up the braided rug in the living room teaching my sister and her boyfriend how to cha cha. I was right in the middle of it all. That is still one of my favorite dances today! I also love anything by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. I’m instantly a kid again watching my parents. My mother and dad were the best dancers I ever knew. They simply melded into one when they danced.

Much later, after my mom had passed away, I remember dancing with my dad at a formal event. He was ever the gentleman, but a little less sure on his feet. This time he depended on me. It was heart breaking and sweet all in the same breath.

Naturally, in the 80’s, I taught aerobics. It was a way for me to legitimately dance. In public. Complete with leg warmers and headband. I was a bad ass. Well, maybe only in my mind. But something about it brought me back to those old rhythms and I loved it. I taught first in a community gym and then in a health club when we moved to San Antonio. For about ten years I either taught or did personal training. It kept me fit. And thin. For a while I sort of lost track and lost so much weight that my tail bone stuck out. Definitely not the case now!! I couldn’t find my tail bone if my life depended on it.

All through our almost 42 years of marriage I have dragged Tom on the dance floor whenever I can. He’s a good dancer. And, I think he likes it more than he puts on. In our younger days we would go country western dancing. It was something to see the boy from Brooklyn dance the two step like a native. A real urban cowboy.

Our daughter, Lauren, took up the dancing tradition and she could tap circles around me. She also could sing and spent a large part of her formative years in musical theatre. Her dancing career was also “interrupted” when we moved to Houston. We hold hope for this next generation?

When Eloise was really little, first walking, we would have dance parties in the den. She would squeal with delight as we danced to Disney tunes. Now, she and Avery entertain us with their lively interpretations of the latest Kidz Bop songs. She doesn’t seem as thrilled as she used to when I join them…But, she is a natural. Avery, maybe not so much. The jury is still out. But, oh, I’m so excited about their recital this year!

I don’t know what made me think of all this tonight. Maybe it was the Amazon Prime Santana album I am listening to. Did you know there is a cha cha beat to many Santana songs?

Right now I’m thinking about a friend who is fighting a fierce battle with pancreatic cancer. She also recently had a major stroke and she now has no movement on her left side. Her beautiful spirit is trapped inside a tiny and stubbornly frozen body. She loves to dance too. A few weeks before she had the stroke we were at a fund raiser together and I watched her enjoy dancing with her husband. First and last ones on the dance floor. Her smiling face belied the seriousness of her health condition. I’m so glad she had that moment of sheer joy on the dance floor. I think she felt a bit of heaven in those few minutes of rhythm. It has been rough going for her since.

I know some might think of heaven as a quiet place. Not me. I think of lots of music and lots of dancing. Everyone moving and smiling together. The perfect line dance! At least I hope there is some of that.

So, tonight. Right here in my living room I dance. I dance by myself and for my friend. And, for all the times I have ever danced and took it for granted. There’s no braided rug to roll up. I simply cha cha with my whole heart.

Now is the time we have to dance.

Something to chew on…

eloise dancing

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at home here

It’s been a year since we moved “home” to Corpus Christi. In some ways it seems like we have always been here, like we had not been away for thirty years. There’s one street in particular that has not changed a bit and when I drive that street I feel a little like I’m in the twilight zone. Until I look in the mirror. And, things are definitely not the same as they were thirty years ago!

So, here we are back at home, and really at home. The house we bought was built in 1939, a bungalow set back in the lot between two larger homes. A cottage with a big front porch. Being old it needs some work, a new roof, some updating. Kind of like me! It is already my dear friend in a way no other structure has ever been.

It’s kinda crazy but when I walk in I feel as though I have been hugged by an old friend. I love to sit on the front porch and drink coffee. Or wine. I love to sit on the back deck, in the tiniest of backyards. And drink coffee. Or wine.

The kitchen needs updating and I’m guessing many would begin by getting rid of the bright yellow cabinets that have been painted with one too many coats of shiny paint. Not me though. The yellow is cheerful and I like not having to worry about them getting chipped. They already are! The previous owner had installed mesquite countertops and I love the warmth they provide. Don’t exactly know if I’m caring for them correctly but I’m doing my best to honor and protect them. This old house and I are doing our best to care for each other.

When I’m not sitting outside I’m usually looking outside through one of the many windows. Some of which, I am noticing right now, need washing. Someone had thoughtfully landscaped the small yard and when we moved in the bougainvilleas were in full flame. They pretty much stayed that way until the two day freeze we had this winter. They’re stubbornly coming back. I love their tenacity!

Tom has to travel most weeks with work and when he arrives home on Thursday evening I love to see the expression when he walks in. Tired but happy and ready to sit in the kitchen or on the porch and talk about the week.

So, I’m chewing today on this notion of home and while home for me has really never been about the structure but more about the people who gather in it, there is something about this particular structure that speaks to someplace deep in my heart. And, like all things, I’m seeking where God is in all of this.

One area I don’t yet feel quite at home is in any one particular church. I’m going to the Episcopal church we were a part of thirty years ago. My daughter and son in law were recently received into that church and they have a wonderful community of friends there. My granddaughters attend the pre-school there at the church and will be able to go there through the eighth grade. It is both their church and their school home. And Tom and I have cherished friends there. Family and friends, the reason we made this move home. I think Tom feels that he has come back home to this church. It’s a beautiful church and feels familiar in wonderful ways.

As much as I love this community of faith, I struggle with thinking of it as my church home. As an ordained Presbyterian pastor, who is no longer serving in an official capacity, I keep searching for what my church home is supposed to be now. I attend a weekly book study at a nearby Presbyterian church and they have welcomed me and made me feel at home in the same way the community of the Episcopal church has. I also have the occasional opportunity to provide a pastoral and preaching presence for surrounding Presbyterian churches when their pastors need to be absent for one reason or another. These churches are always very welcoming. And, yet, while all are wonderful, none are home. I keep striving to figure out where my church home is supposed to be.

This past fall I started a book/scripture study group in my home, inviting any and all to join. For nearly eight months now we have gathered on Thursday mornings. There are a possible sixteen and usually there are anywhere from six to twelve who come. I wanted it to be something no one had to rsvp for or feel obligated to. Something to come to when they could. I make a pot of coffee and light a couple of candles and wait in anticipation of who will be able to come.

Each week there is a different mix with a different energy. And each week I’m amazed and thankful for what I have learned and for what their hearts have shared. For the ways God is moving in our lives. We are from late thirties to early seventies and all in between. We come from different faith backgrounds, Catholic, Baptist, Episcopalian, Presbyterian… All are dealing with the challenges of life. Some are in serious battle with cancer, their own or a family member. Some have recently experienced the death of loved ones. Others are in the midst of raising children in this crazy world. Others assimilating into the life of retirement and all the emotions involved. And, others trying to love on adult children and care for aging parents at the same time. And, all of us are trying to navigate our lives in the most faithful way possible. I have grown to love this time, and these people, as a most heart felt and holy time of the week.

I’m wondering as I write. While I am sure I will continue to seek to balance attendance and involvement between the Episcopal and Presbyterian communities, maybe, for now, I can stop striving so much to find my church. Maybe, for now, this place, this house, is the structure of my church home. Maybe, for now, providing and participating in these Thursday morning times of sabbath is right where I’m supposed to be. At home.

Isn’t it funny how sometimes we strive and search for what has been right before us all along.

Maybe that’s why so many of us miss what Jesus was about…the incarnation, the structure, of the Love that had been there all along.

Something to chew on…

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holding noise

There is a constant ringing in my ears. It’s been my companion for as long as I can remember. Seriously. You know the chirping of cicadas? Or, the irritating scratchy squeal of feedback in a sound system? Combine the two and you are close to the ever present noise in my head.

I don’t say this to be whining. People have much worse to contend with. This is simply an my annoyance to deal with. It’s been with me so long most of the time I give it no notice at all. Since I can’t turn it off, for the most part, I have learned to rewire my attention away from it. It’s only at night in the quiet that the ringing demands center stage, filling up the audible space vacated by the usual hum of daily living.

I cover it up well with music. All kinds of music. Anyone who knows me knows I surround myself with music as much as possible. I like music for the sake of its beauty and for the way it inspires me, but an essential benefit is the way it takes my mind away from the ringing.

Some people like the TV on as background noise. My mother in law, Dolores, was like that. Twenty-four seven, her TV was blaring. Mostly on the shopping network. This could be one of the reasons we found eighteen purses with tags still attached when we cleaned out her condo. Her persuasive television friends no doubt convinced her she needed many things to fill the empty spaces in her life.

Maybe, though, it wasn’t actually emptiness she was trying to fill but rather, like me trying to drown out the ringing in my ear, she was trying to drown out the sound of a broken heart. She was always outwardly looking on the bright side of any situation. But, I think inside she was always trying to push away the forceful roaring of her grief.

Dolores’ heartbreak came to her as a result of being transplanted from NY to Texas and never fully making peace with the changes it brought, uprooting her from family and friends and everything familiar. It came from losing her husband in midlife and then losing her adult daughter to a disease she couldn’t conquer. No matter what the age, losing a child must be the deepest ache there is. An impossible pain to silence.

All of these losses had been beyond her control but she did her best to keep the noise of grief locked away in the quiet place of her heart. It seemed she avoided this place at all cost. I remember one time she was at our house and, of course, music was playing. Ave Maria came on and immediately she asked me to turn it off. I think that particular song was too beautiful, too soulful. It would force her to the vulnerable place in her heart she had locked away. I guess even the thought of going there was just too painful. Even though the journey through grief would be the only path to the true quiet of peace, the cost was too great for her to consider. Better to keep the TV on. Better to hide in the noise.

The ringing in my ear, this distraction I keep at bay, came to me early as a child. By the time I was two I had my tonsils removed because of repeated ear infections. Back then there was no option for tubes, at least not in Lubbock, Texas. Back then they lanced the ear to release the pressure and fluid from the infection. It hurt like hell.

I can remember once when I was about four or five my ear was so infected I heard my own voice in double. Always looking for new ways to perform I turned my malady into an opportunity and, turning the music on in the living room, I sang a “duet”. For hours. A day or so later I had the ear lanced again. I can remember the sound before the needle hit the ear drum. I’ve heard you can’t actually remember physical pain. I can feel its echo.

The many lancing procedures left a hole in my ear drum which, at some point, scarred over. Maybe it’s the source of the ringing. I’m really not sure. I just know it’s there.

Recently, after a upper respiratory bug the ringing got worse, harder to ignore. I went to the doctor and was told nothing could be done about the ringing. I was also told I have lost 25% of my hearing in both ears and the ringing is now aggravated by my ears trying to work so hard to hear. I think I understood that correctly but, it sounds weird doesn’t it; that ear noise would get louder by the ear trying to hear. I am thinking I need even more music in my life! Just not too loud. But loud enough to hear…and loud enough not to hear.

There is a writer who is credited with writing much of the New Testament scripture. He is called The Apostle Paul. He talks about a thorn he has in his side. He’s prayed over and over again for it to be removed. There is all kinds of scholarly speculation about just what this “thorn” is. It doesn’t matter. Not the point! He says in this struggle he’s been reminded God’s grace is enough. Enough to make it possible to carry on. With the thorn in his side? That’s it? That’s the answer to his prayer? Seems like a pretty crummy answer to an earnest (get that…ear-nest?) prayer.

Or, is it? I don’t know. Maybe it is the perfect answer. Do I wish the ringing would cease in my ear? Oh, hell yes. And, still, I do find grace in each and every day. I find grace in the way I love and appreciate music so much. Perhaps I would have never become so attentive to it had I not needed it to redirect me from focusing on the negative noise.

I find grace even in the quiet when the ringing is its loudest. I can sense God’s presence with me, quieting my frustration. In those moments I feel loved in my brokenness.

And I find grace in the way I am able to hear the stories of others who carry with them a constant reminder of their frailty. No, I do not know exactly how it feels to carry what they carry. However, I can feel the echo of it and I can sympathize with the struggle to accommodate to the things we can’t change. We can hold the noise together.

I guess if we’re fortunate to live long enough we all get scars that require a certain reorientation. Whether they be physical or emotional or both we are, at once, frail and resilient as created beings. Whatever it is that hurts us comes to us as an uninvited interruption to the notion we are invincible. What I’m considering today is maybe this is the whole point. The actual distraction to clear is the false notion we are invincible. Maybe this is the path to embracing our full humanity.

Christ had a thorn as well. His was love. It was always with him and nothing could drown it out. Not the temptation of power. Not hatred. Not indifference. Not persecution. This thorn of love cost him everything. Even his life. He carried this love all the way to the cross. And, today, this beautiful, loud, and tenacious Love lives on.

I hope Dolores heard the soothing comfort of  Love as she walked through life avoiding the cries of her grief. I trust completely she feels the sound of its peace now.

This Love lives on in you. In me. In us. In the midst of the noise, pain, and distraction it is calling us to its melody of joy. Shhh…can you hear it?
Something to chew on….

Painted in Waterlogue

Posted in Christ, community, connection, Faith, grief, Lessons Learned, Life, life and death, life purpose, Spirituality, Uncategorized, wholeness; | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

soil…ash wednesday offering

We are body of soil.
Soil, body in potential.
Christ, completion of soil.
Ground of being incarnate.

Soil fully embodied. Soil fully divine.

To nurture soil is
to thank history, our elder.
to nurture future, our child.
to love neighbor, our now.

Holiness of life. What is.

To neglect or abuse soil is
to deny one’s life
to deny one’s purpose
to deny what is holy.

Partners in creation.

Embrace the sacredness of soil.
For it is God breathed.
From it your life has come.
And will one day return again.

Eternity now. Forever present.

Death comes, a returning to soil.
Embrace the beauty of grief.
It is the labor pain of new life.
Seed’s death, fruit’s birth.
Resurrection life breaks open!

Something to chew on…

Painted in Waterlogue

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unattended

Twenty five years ago today my mother died just three days before her 66th birthday. She had been in a coma for thirteen days after suffering a major stroke in the brain stem. She died immersed in love, with her husband, her two daughters, and her only sister at her bedside.

I was thirty seven at the time. My daughter was twelve. I wasn’t ready. But, that is the way of life isn’t it. Death comes as the ultimate party crasher, changing the landscape of the heart forever.

As I sit here this morning, remembering that morning so long ago, I remember feeling the presence of God so strongly. No one would ever be able to convince me that I did not see her spirit rise as she took her last breath. There was such a peace. Such a release. And, in the days to come there was such a fatigue. The likes of which I had never experienced before.

I never heard much about the grieving process at that time. The way it affects you physically. It’s true though. I remember when a friend of mine lost her son. We were talking one night a couple of weeks later and she held her hand on her stomach and told me it hurt. That she just wished the pain in her gut would go away. Grief is a forceful reminder our body of soil and our heart of spirit are one, try as we might to separate them from one another.

My mother experienced joy in her life, but she also experienced grief. Long before I was born she endured what had to be excruciating. At full term pregnancy she gave birth to a baby boy who was stillborn. This was a long time ago and they didn’t have the same medical knowledge that is available now. Although these tragedies still happen today. To make things worse, there was a callousness, probably out of ignorance I suppose, at work against her. She was put in the room with another patient. A mother who had given birth to a healthy baby. When my mother awoke to the sound of a crying infant and asked if the baby were hers she was told no and informed her baby had died. It’s chilling to think of this even today.

I don’t think my mother ever fully recovered from her loss. At that time there was no one to guide her through. To tell her she must attend to her grief. To even acknowledge that her loss was worthy of grief. She went on to have several more failed pregnancies before having me. She almost miscarried me but by that time there was a medication given to prevent the miscarry from going forth. It did its job so well I was a month overdue when I was born. Which I think justifies my tendency to run a little late. I couldn’t replace the baby boy she lost, but I was loved. And spoiled.

My mother tried hard to move on. She kept an immaculate house. Was an excellent cook. Gifted decorator. Exquisite seamstress. Voracious reader. Winning card player. Agile dancer. Impeccable dresser. And, she could stretch a dollar further than anyone, balancing her checkbook to the penny ever month. As I write this I realize I haven’t balanced a check book in so long I can’t remember. Who needs a checkbook when you can look online in an instant. Things have changed a lot in twenty five years.

My mother was the smartest woman I’ve ever known. And, she loved my dad, sister, and me with everything she had.

Yes, for all practical purposes, it would appear that she moved on in life just fine. But the truth is her body paid the price for her heartbreak. For as long as I could remember she struggled with one illness or body pain after another. Frequently there would be a worried hush over the family that this time it was something serious. Something deadly. She had surgery after surgery as one thing or another failed her, and I couldn’t count the times she was hospitalized. When I was in junior high and high school she developed migraines and they plagued her for ten years. My sister thought it was her. I thought it was me. Maybe it was hormones. Thinking back, I think it was her broken heart screaming for attention.

Eventually she succumbed to high blood pressure. One can only deny grief for so long before it explodes. It gives me great comfort to imagine the baby boy she lost so many years before greeting her as we said our goodby. I’m convinced that’s why her death felt like such a peaceful passing. Such a sweet and final healing.

Grief. A necessary, yet difficult part of life. An intrusion that demands its due. I think I’lll spend some time today tending to mine.

Something to chew on….

Painted in Waterlogue

 

 

Posted in connection, family, grief, healing, Lessons Learned, life and death, mothers and daughters, peace, Uncategorized, wholeness; | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

pass the salt, please

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…..

Painted in Waterlogue

Posted in breathing, Christ, connection, Lessons Learned, Life, life purpose, paris, Spirituality, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments