When we say someone is "worth their salt," we usually mean they are competent at their work. But the phrase has an interesting history. According to NPR: "In Roman times, and throughout the Middle Ages, salt was a valuable commodity, also referred to as "white gold." This high demand for salt was due to its important use in preserving food, especially meat and fish. Being so valuable, soldiers in the Roman army were sometimes paid with salt instead of money. Their monthly allowance was called 'salarium' ("sal" being the Latin word for salt). This Latin root can be recognized in the French word "salaire" — and it eventually made it into the English language as the word 'salary.'"
Also, when people read something unsubstantiated for example, we might say, "You have to take that with a grain of salt." Although the origins of this phrase are ironically unsubstantiated themselves, legend tells another story from ancient Rome. In the late 70s CE, Pliny the Elder "recounted the story of how Pompey—best known for warring with Julius Caesar—found directions for the concoction that Mithridates VI used to inoculate himself against certain poisons. Mithridates VI famously ingested small doses of poison to build up his immunity, but according to Pliny, the recipe called for other ingredients, too: dried nuts, figs, and rue leaves. Everything should be minced together and taken after having added a grain of salt: addito salis grano."
Salt preserves, adds flavor, and is crucial to our diets - we just talked about raising my sodium levels at my Stat Wellness appointment this week . Salt has been a major item of trade, often treated like gold. Leviticus 2:13 tells us salt was a necessary part of offerings and sacrifice. Certain spiritual traditions as well as contemporary fantasy novels showcase salt as a way to battle evil spirits. Spilling salt has been considered bad luck, to the point that Leonardo da Vinci in "The Last Supper" portrays Judas as having overturned a salt shaker. We probably walk past a salt shaker every day on our kitchen counters, and yet it has an incredible history.
A few weeks ago I was also writing about salt, so I remind you of what Matthew 5:13 says, "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 underfoot." As we cash out on these final days of April, many of us feel like we have lost our saltiness. We do not feel enthusiasm, we just feel tired. When we are depleted, we have nothing further to offer. No longer the salt of the earth, we feel that 'thrown out and trampled' feeling is more than relatable.
So how can we be made salty again? How can we rise up and claim our confidence, every bit worth our salt? How can we take the day to day crazies with a grain of salt?
One of my yoga instructors at Haven Yoga often closes our class by reminding the class, "You are salt and you are light." Remember that you are salt, preserving hope and offering joy. Remember that you are light, shining out grace and radiating love. You are worthy. You are loved beyond measure.
Salt is on my mind big time, because of a new class I'll be offering in the fall to help people find their saltiness again. But it seems to be popping up everywhere now in my life because I'm paying attention to it. Those little things that we tend to ignore each day can be so overlooked in the chaos. My advice is to tend to the every day things the best you can in these days. When things are too chaotic, look around for the 'normal' things. Appreciate them, enjoy them.
You are salt, and you are light. Don't lose yourself in this season. We need you.