How to Salt the Earth Right Where You Are

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When I was 34 years old, I shared something in common with more than 4 million teenagers. I wore braces. Being someone with small teeth and sensitive gums, adjusting to braces also meant adjusting to a few canker sores and other mouthy maladies.

Once, my orthodontist noticed an infected molar bordering a metal band. He quickly instructed his assistant to remove the band and counseled me to massage the gum and rinse my mouth with salt water at least three times a day. And that was it. No prescription. No suggestion to purchase a medicated mouth wash or oral antiseptic. A few swishes of common table salt dissolved in warm water were what the reputable doctor recommended. The salt water instantly soothed my sore mouth and eradicated the infection within two days.

As I was swishing, a commonly recited scripture verse bounced on my heart. “You are the salt of the earth…” Matthew 5:13. I’ve read that verse countless times, each time thinking of the mineral’s distinctive taste, but never considering other traits of the seasoning. Without a doubt, salt adds zip to food, and it is also an amazing preservative, but it can also promote healing. Gargling with warm salt water relieves a sore throat. Tepid salt water soaks also are known to cure fungal infections. And saline sprays abate nasal congestion.

As a grain of salt for Christ, I am commanded to add a specific flavor to the world I encounter; a taste so basic yet so essential that the complexities of its make-up are often unnoticed. Components of the flavor include patience, kindness, mercy, grace, selflessness, peace, truthfulness, hope, trust, and forgiveness. Mix those ingredients together and the created composite is love (recipe found in I Corinthians 13:4-7).

And it’s a flavor needed in ever fiber of my life and my surroundings. Sometimes adding salt is difficult, but sometimes it is much easy than you’d think it to be.

When I sit still and earnestly listen to my seven-year-old son chatter  about the pumpkin zombies he created in Minecraft, I’m sprinkling salt on my relationship with my son.

When my non artistic self spends a Saturday afternoon  painting pottery with my talented daughter, I am seasoning the quality time spent with my sweet girl.

When I stop what I’m doing and refill my husband’s mug with coffee before he even realizes he was running low, I’m dashing salt on my marriage.

When I bring a meal to a new mother, console a hurting heart, or pardon a wrong against me, I’m dousing salt on friendships.

Pouring love into a pot of boiling affliction begets a flavor so bold, so savory, so edifying that it pleases even a woefully wounded palate. Like salt, love is more than a remedy for blandness it’s an agent of healing.

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.” Matthew 5: 13 NIV

A version of this post was originally published on August 6, 2010 at (in)courage under the title “Flavors of Salt.”