Thursday, August 19, 2010

Salt of the Earth

This is a follow-up post (#3) to a series on "Salt." To read the first two passages, feel welcomed to visit here and here. Thank you for stopping by. Karibu tena (Welcome again).

Our mornings in Kenya are ushered in with the giggles of waking girls to brilliantly painted African sunrises and traditional Kenyan tea, the sweet aroma of milk boiling, tagless tea bags steeping on the burner in the old aluminum teapot that spits out drops of tea like a camel spitting at tourists who get too close. The milky brown joy is then poured from the state of bubbling bliss into a deep blue thermos, where it remains piping hot until being poured out like an offering into the waiting altar of mugs. It is the custom of the Kenyan morning. If there is nothing else, there is tea.

I gingerly sip on my second cup for the day, having jaunted to the market in between the first and second. As I am chopping the vegetables that will escort the softening beans for dinner, my teacup sits faithfully next to me on the counter, steam twisting and dancing toward the heavens. I think of worship and being salt and being alive in Christ, reveling in the freedom that only He provides, pondering all that the freedom has done for me, wondering how now I shall live for the freedom, all the while curling the fingers under the bell peppers so as to not chop off the tips.

My hands are stained with the perma-scent of fresh cut purple onion and marvelous cloves of pungent fresh garlic, as that seems to be a staple of most everything that is prepared in this kitchen. Into the pan, chopped pieces of crystal-colored onion with a deep royalty clothing the outside. Bits of garlic cling to it as a true BFF, that they may go through the fire together.

Mark 9:49 says, “Everyone will be salted with fire.”

I ponder this phrase as I light the fire under the vegetables for a quick sauté, the sizzling of the oil and browning of the veggies telling a story of their own.

We will be tested, sprayed and dashed with fire at different points in our walk. If we are to become the salt of the earth, as Matthew 5:13 says, then some refining has to take place so that we are of good flavor to our surroundings, and not spoilers.

Bell pepper, onion, garlic, and a dash of olive oil over the blue-orange flames of the burner create an aroma that is inebriating. The lungs expand fully, taking in the scent of a meal worthy of royalty. After the veggies have reached the perfect shade of golden brown, they are dumped into the pot of half-softened beans, along with diced carrots, a healthy dash or two of cumin, and a generous sprinkling of salt over the top. Tenderly stir it all together to allow the salt to pull out the very best of all that has been thrown together. That is what salt does.

When we enjoy the feast in the evening of all that has simmered throughout the day, it is not the salt that is applauded. Nobody comments on how wonderfully salty the salt is, but rather how delicious the beans are, how the vegetables and spices have combined so beautifully, how the garlic is so rich, how the carrots are so sweet, how the soup is perfectly flavored. Nobody comments on the salt. But if it is missing, it is surely noticed, as one by one, hands reach for the shaker resting in the middle of the table.

Shake, shake, shake, shake….slurp the soup…roll on the tongue….not quite there…shake, shake, shake…tongue dips to soup, roll around….perfect.

The beans are divine!

When the salt is present, when the right amount has been added, the brilliant flavors of others are brought out enhanced. The entire lot shines because the salt has done its job, without reward or mention. Its humble station is to lift others up and make them better.

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.

You, dear sister, dear brother, are called to be the salt of this rock; the seasoning that brings out the best in all those around you; the flavor that needs no recognition on its own other than to see all those who know you be built up and blessed to the fullest potential.

It is a humble lot to work for the betterment of others, without craving applause. But we have been called to be the salt. When we are missing, when we have not shown up in the humility and servanthood that was demonstrated for us, it is noticed. It is felt. It might not be verbalized, but the hearts have recognized that the salt is not there.

Shake, shake, shake, shake…toss a warm, friendly smile at a hurting soul…see the eyes lift at the thought of being seen by another….shake, shake, shake, shake…touch the arm of the homeless woman asking you for money…see the hardened shell crack at the power of a gentle human touch…shake, shake, shake…send an encouraging note to sister on your heart...see a heart encouraged to persevere in difficult times...shake, shake, shake...cook dinner for a family experiencing hard times and drop it off anonymously...see a family giving gratitude to the Maker for providing...shake, shake, shake...see your world seasoned with love and kindness.

When the salt is there, in gentleness, in humility, in quiet servitude, not seeking self exaltation, but longing to see the hearts of others lifted, when the salt is there, it may not be called out in recognition or gratitude, but it is noticed. It is felt. And the Father is ever glorified.

You are the salt of the earth.

How are you flavoring your world?

Today I am linked up to wonderful Beth's site, I should be folding laundry, who challenged us this week to capture "in the kitchen" photos. Hop over to check out some really stunning photography. 


  1. I love this post Shauna. You are so descriptive, I feel as if I'm sitting in the kitchen on a stool drinking tea with you while you chop. I wish I were! I love how you've reminded me of salt. I just read a great article about 26 ingenious uses for salt the other day, and thought about what a wonder it is. And how much more that we are used by God as such a humble but world-seasoning tool. He is so good. And we are so priveleged.

  2. Oh, what a wonderful, wonderful post. I just sat here and soaked it all in. You have a beautifully descriptive way of writing. Also, I love your second photo... the white design on the window, the colors of the curtains and food, the helter-skelter way the food is laid out... just the way it was. Real and raw. LOVE it!

  3. Wow, you have a way with words don't you :) I loved reading your post and will surely be back. Thanks for the cravings too... Those beans sound wonderful!

  4. What incredible pictures. You are living an incredible adventure. Praise God!

  5. That's beautiful!
    It reminds me of a few kitchen tips I've been taught along the way. First, it's better to add salt along the way than to add salt at the table. It always tastes better when the salt has been cooked with the food and, as you mentioned, allowed to bring out and meld the flavors. Second, my brother-in-law taught me to "salt in layers" meaning add a little salt throughout the process. A little salt on sauteeing veggies, a little salt on the meat, a little in the broth. It makes the flavors richer.
    I think those principles could be applied to the daily-ness of our Christianity as well.

    A scientific question, my science-trained friend. Under what circumstances does salt lose its saltiness? If it gets wet it will dry into a big glob, but it will still be salty. If it is old, I believe, it still has flavor.
    I think I understand the intent of that verse, but I've never understood the actual phrasing.

  6. Oh, how I loved reading these. What a wonderful adventure and what a blessing to be able to journey into others' lives like that.
    Blessings and prayers.

  7. Hi Shauna--thanks for stopping by my place with your kind words. I'm so glad I wandered over. Could almost smell the onions and garlic simmering! A dear friend of mine served an internship in Kenya last year--I want to forward your post to her. I'm sure it will resonate. Also scrolled down to your bride post. Such wisdom--I too, have disparaged Christ's bride. So good to have your lovely reminder of how He sees her. Blessings to you! BTW--love that comments are your love language!

  8. hello there. thank you for the peek into your kitchen. your kettle and pots are just like my mum's.

  9. Donita,
    You got me to thinking which led to looking which led to this:
    salt in a pure form, cannot lose its saltiness. However, the salt that would have been common in first century Palestine was typically collected from the salt marshes in the region. This salt was cheap and easily procured - but it was full of mineral impurities and had the tendency to "lose its savor" if stored improperly. It's not that the salt itself would become unsalty but that the salt found in the mineral compound collected from the salt mashes, would leach away if the marsh salt were allowed to become damp. Once the salt content had dissolved and drained away, the residual mineral would be salt that had lost its savor.

  10. words so true and so I really living to bring out the best of everyone else around?
    Also, I spent last summer in Kenya and your description of tea and the hands that permanently smell of onion and garlic made me long to return. Thank you so much for sharing.


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