When I was young every evening meal featured the same experience. Once grace was offered and dishes were passed my father reached for the salt and pepper shakers. No initial sampling. No asking the cook about usage during preparation. Just the application of salt and pepper on top of what was piled on his plate. Lavishly. Liberally. But a little salt never hurt anyone anyway, right?
Sadly, for many that simply isn't true. Salt - like much in life - can be harmful in excess. Yet it has its fine qualities. It seems to draw out and intensify the natural flavors in food. It serves as a preservative. Salt even has healing properties. Such an ordinary, common element. Such remarkable powers.
Imagine what our world would be like if we all thought of ourselves as salt. Drawing out the best in others. Preserving the good. Healing the wounded. We might approach a person we find difficult to be around and wonder what it would be like to pepper him with salt. Shower her with the sweet spice of affirmation. Search for the key ingredient that would unlock natural goodness and ability. Sprinkle lavishly kind and tenderizing words. Perhaps we could then learn to increase the volume when encountering organizations or groups of people. Liberally pepper the salt that preserves life, health, peace, acceptance, cooperation. Envision healing rifts rather than widening them. Recognize that ordinary people can draw out the best in others - no advanced degree or special training required.
Quaker author, activist, and founder of the Center for Courage & Renewal Parker J. Palmer formulated what he calls "Touchstones" for building relational trust. One of them is "When the going gets rough, turn to wonder: if you feel judgmental or defensive, ask yourself, 'I wonder what brought her to this belief?' 'I wonder what he's feeling right now?' 'I wonder what my reaction teaches me about myself?' Set aside judgment to listen to others - and to yourself - more deeply." Interesting, isn't it, that Palmer invites us to shine the beam of wonder within. We all need a gentle peppering of salt, don't we?
It was declared on a hillside long ago and far away that all who wear the name of Jesus are salt. Not, will be salt one day. Not, strive to be salt. Not, hope to be more salt than not. Are salt. "You ARE the salt of the earth" the rabbi said. Platters of opportunities are placed before us every day... helpings that make for healing, servings ripe with preserving, and peaches of people yearning to be coaxed into their best selves. The real pickle of it all is, will we pepper with the salt we are?