Salt is one of those things we don’t think of much, yet it is essential in so many ways. Too much salt in our diets and we are in trouble; not enough salt, our cells can swell. Too much salt on the roads causes deterioration; not enough leaves them slippery and dangerous. We use salt almost without thinking on our food, but it is one of those ingredients that brings out so many other flavors if used properly. Saltwater covers 70% of the planet and holds most of the life on earth, but put it on a tomato plant or put a freshwater fish into it, and it kills them.
Salt used in different ways in the Bible. Lot’s wife becomes a pillar of salt; salt is used in incense and as an offering to God. Salt is also used to destroy crops and as part of a covenant with God; there’s even a valley named Salt. In the Christian Scriptures, salt is used in three ways. Jesus tells His disciples that they are the salt of the earth, but if they don’t stay salty, they will be useless. The Apostle Paul tells first-century Christians to season everything with salt, so they know how to say the right thing in conversation. Finally, the writer of James differentiates salt water (brackish, in some versions) from fresh, telling the reader that they cannot come from the same source. The context is around how we speak and the words we use; be careful, we are warned, because words can hurt, and words can heal.
Like everything in life, salt has good and bad uses; it is the person using it who needs to take care of how much or little is thrown in the pot. People tend to go overboard; we can too easily become fixated on an extreme view that we hold on to regardless of reality. John Wesley drank an occasional glass of ale or wine but was concerned about the gin mills of his day and how they were ruining people’s lives. So, what did the people who became Methodists do? They banned the use of alcohol! The Buddha found that the best way to live was in the middle path; he tried nothingness and excess, and neither one worked. And while cooperation and moderation have become foreign concepts (and dirty words) to many of us, communities fail when they don’t try to understand each other and find ways to live in harmony. Too much of anything can be bad for us; balance is necessary for healthy living.
We in America are out of balance and have been for a very long time. We need a strong military; we have a massive war machine. We need some sense of spirituality in our lives; we have become a nation of zealots and non-practitioners. In an all-or-nothing world, everybody loses. You may have been convinced by the person you voted for or your “side” winning that you are, in fact, winning; but we aren’t. You are losing. I am losing. We are losing. We need to regain balance so we can all win. Stay salty, my friends. In a good way.
Prayer – You have created us to bring flavor and joy to the world, God of both salt and fresh water; may we find our balance in You. Amen.
Today’s art is “Lot’s Wife” by Granger (2016).