We gathered for our first ever Mesa gathering - a time to join around table and go deeper together. We kicked off our season of gatherings in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), an appropriate place to start as it encompasses Jesus' core teachings and radical, holistic ethos for a community in the world seeking God's glory and neighbor's good.
There are 14,000 uses for salt.
We use salt to season food, of course.
Ancient sailors used salted fish to preserve food for trade back home in distant ports.
You can use salt to treat a sore throat
to kill poison ivy
to clean bamboo furniture
to remove rust
to remove spots on clothes
to make soap
to keep cut flowers fresh
to put out grease fires
Salt & Straw here in Portland is a reference to the early method of making sure ice cream froze properly - the earliest recipes, dating back to the early 1700s in England called for filling a pot with cream, ice and a pound of salt - all surrounding a straw laid at the bottom. Take the straw pot into a cellar and within four hours the ice cream was ready to serve.
With a pinch of salt you can create electrolytes in a glass of water instead of drinking that sugary sports drink. In pre-modern wars, salt was used to treat wounds on the battlefield.
Maybe one of the most common, minuscule things in the world - it is absolutely necessary, not just for a life well lived, but for life at all.
0.4% of our bodies contain salt - something we lose when we perspire. And it is a constant, necessary thing to replenish - or else we’d die.
Every human being, even every animal, needs salt to live.
In this country, many of our earliest roads were not laid out by some master plan but by paths trodden by animals traveling to natural salt licks in the wilderness. True story. Lincoln Avenue in Chicago, a long diagonal road through the heart of the city, is basically the paved over Indian trail made by the feet of members of the Miami tribe following the hunt looking for mineral licks. Lolo Pass, a crucial part of the final stretch of the Oregon Trail, is one such Indian trail.
Soldiers “worth their salt.” Wars were waged over salt!
The French revolution, it’s been said was started over a tax on salt. In British Imperial India it was illegal for Indians to make, gather, or sell their own salt. Gandhi famously asked: “Why should they not march two hundred and forty miles to the shore where the salt from the sea was free?” And that’s what they did in 1930 - they marched for nearly a month to the sea, 60,000 Indians beaten and arrested along the way, Gandhi himself, included, to gather their own salt. Time Magazine named Ghandi it’s Man of the Year for this march and his call to Satyagraha (truth/love force). This collective, non-violent action to gather the simple gifts of this world inspired an entire generation of civil rights seekers far and wide. India eventually gained it’s Independence in 1947.
Martin Luther King noted Gandhi’s salt march as inspiration for the Selma to Montgomery march in 1965 and the passing of the Voting Rights Act - forever ending discrimination in the voting booth in this country.
All because the simple notion that like salt, we are all essential and must always be free.
What I’m trying to say is that salt, while ordinary and commonplace, is elemental to our daily lives. Pliny the Edler, a Roman contemporary of Jesus, wrote in his Natural History that “nothing is more useful than salt and sunshine.
Salt and Light, it could be said, is life.
Nadia Bolz-Weber remarks:
We perhaps should not miss the fact that Jesus does not say “here are the conditions you must meet to be the salt of the Earth.” He does not say here are the standards of wholeness you must fulfill in order to be light for the world. He looks out into the crowd of people in pain, people who have been broken open – those cracks that let in and let out the Light, who have the salt of sweat and tears on their broken bodies, and says you ARE salt. You. You are light. You have that of God within you the God whose light scatters the darkness. Your imperfect and beautiful bodies are made of chemicals with holiness shining in it…you are made of dust and the very breath of God.
In other words, you are a broken jerk and Jesus trusts you. Don’t wait until you feel as though you have met the conditions of being holy. Trust that Jesus knows what he is doing. And that you already are salt and light and love and grace. Don’t try and be it. Know that you already are. And then, for the love of God, take that seriously. The world needs it.
We need your saltiness...
Join us for our next Mesa on March 9th.