Salt is such precious stuff. It is not food, but it is essential for food. It purifies, it preserves, it seasons. It is a crystalline mineral, found mainly in seawater as the main mineral ingredient. On our precious earth it is important for survival - being so essential it became not just an important article of trade but also at times the reason for war over it. Salt is used in the kitchen and in religious ceremonies, it is in use in the East and the West - it is everywhere.
Jesus teaches his audience - that is, us - that we are the salt of the earth. The ingredient that everyone needs for survival, the stuff that purifies, preserves and seasons. Anyone who listens to Jesus' teachings of the oneness of God and man is evidently salty. But how does the salt get into the food - and what does that have to do with us? Are we salty enough - noticeable in our expression of good? Is our thought purified and spiritualized enough to make a difference much as salt does in food? Are we really throwing ourselves into the world - not wandering or settling for less, letting a million injustices or sorrows appear on the mental scene without responding with prayer? "Pass the salt" might the world say.
Recently I could see more clearly that Jesus sees our spiritual identity as distinct from our material history. The salt is different - it is not the food itself, and in the same way Spirit is the one power that is really apart from everything else. The salt is pure - and so are we. We are free from a mortal self, free to feel the oneness with our Father-Mother God.
So how are we the salt of the earth? What could spiritual salt be? How are you salty?
Where is the distinct individual voice of moral courage? The tender willingness to walk the second mile? The quiet deed of good that helps to alleviate some negative streak, some sadness? There is something trenchant about "being salt", something unerring and precise. To be salt is not to be sugar. To be salt is to be distinct from a material sense of life, dull, always the same routine, predictable, boring. To be salt means to be individual, aromatic and flavored. You now when there is salt in the soup and when it is missing. Salt is noticed.
As spiritual thinkers we are salty when we use the three distinct qualities of salt in a spiritual way daily: We purify our motives, our hearts and our thinking to let Spirit move our days forward in a distinctly spiritual way. We preserve God-given qualities, such as courage, kindness, watchfulness, and perception. We are ready to season the dull days of materialism without spiritual glow by lifting thought up to the spiritual concept of day where spirituality dawns and freedom is perceived to be the natural habitat of man. We have a salty heritage of Spirit.
In "Miscellaneous Writings" Mary Baker Eddy writes (p. 110): "Beloved children, the world has need of you,—and more as children than as men and women: it needs your innocence, unselfishness, faithful affection, uncontaminated lives. You need also to watch, and pray that you preserve these virtues unstained, and lose them not through contact with the world. What grander ambition is there than to maintain in yourselves what Jesus loved, and to know that your example, more than words, makes morals for mankind!"
Recently the World Health Organization (WHO) updated its fact sheet on "depression", and shared this assessment: "Depression is the leading cause of disability world wide, and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease." (see it here.) What a stunning observation - if there were a way to overcome depression, humanity would benefit also physically, this statement seems to say. So anybody who as anything to contribute should share something, and I am presenting to you three different perspectives in this text.
Behind the scenes is a vivid debate about the treatment of depression, with or without medication. It is a debate whether psychotherapy or prescribing is better, and many individuals in the medical world are part of this debate. This tells me again, that every single case of the 300 million people worldwide diagnosed with depression is individual. And that there is no institution or verdict that is truly applicable to everything and everyone. When I heard again at the phone someone saying that the doctor consulted said that she would need hospitalization and would have to take prescription drugs for her entire life, I could honor her reluctance in taking this step and saw already her insight that something more than giving in to the verdict of one medical professional was necessary. Anyone who has been diagnosed with depression, or was in the position of helping someone diagnosed with depression or had to help someone find healing by first helping the individual to see what was at stake, knows what I mean. Knows something about the empathy, consecration, patience, persistence, unselfish love, patience, patience, patience that is needed for healing. And that is the real need that has to be met. And that is being met with something deeper than human will or effort. Don't reckon without one's host - discovering a higher view, more dignified and whole, of man is key.
I observed, first, that some of the cases I was supporting (as a professor, as a family member, as a practitioner) had a similar theme - this theme being a conviction that the life that these individuals were living wasn't theirs. Somehow a life that didn't fit - that the way they were living wasn't right or appreciated by the family or surrounding, that their talents couldn't be expressed to the full, that what they really wanted was unacceptable to the surrounding and that expectations felt like unsurmountable obstacles. Communication stopped and all the attention collapsed into the inside. What was perceived as adding to the burden was the unsolicited advice or the demand to pull oneself together. This is simply not how this works, I observed over the years. What works is the most tender care, quiet support and humility, not unsolicited advice. It makes a huge difference to feel that we are o.k., to feel strength and power from Spirit in an individual way, and to discover the independence that stems from the fact that what we are and how we live is really a matter between us and God. Of course, this is sometimes a tall order, but Mary Baker Eddy assures us: "If we would open their prison doors for the sick, we must first learn to bind up the broken-hearted." (Science and Health, p. 367)
Second, I remembered from a report of a healing, how important it is to activate gratitude while at the same time refrain from denying that the negative pull exists. Ostrich-like methods just don't help, mental activity does, which uses spiritual sense as a means of seeing in the dark. A healing of depression by Pierre Pradervand, author of The gentle art of blessing, illustrates this powerfully. It gives hints and tips and was published in The Christian Science Journal in 2001 - you can read it here. You will see from this deeply moving account that the Christian Science approach takes into account spiritual resources unknown before and builds on self-knowledge, Spirit knowledge and a deep sense of goodness.
Third, I find food for thought in this short lecture by Marshall Rosenberg, the founder of the concept of "non violent communication" (please scroll to the end of the post). It is again a different way of looking at depression, a thoughtful and tender way, I find. Sometimes healings of depression are on the spot, sometimes they take years and start with accepting that there is something to learn and live with for a while. In any case there is always a way out. Always. Our destiny is not to remain in the dark and feel not at home in Life. Our destiny is to see the beauty and rightness of our being, to acknowledge our independence from the approval of others and to discover our most vital and most powerful link of all, the link to our creator, divine Love. Goodness is a law in Love's dimension of healing.
The Psalms, wisdom of the ages, give words to the sad heart and share also words for the joy when the sense of Life is permanently regained in acceptance and healing.
"How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me? Consider and hear me, O Lord my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death; Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him; and those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved. But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation. I will sing unto the Lord, because he hath dealt bountifully with me." (Psalm 13)
In The Message, a Bible rendering by Eugene Peterson, this same Psalm is translated like this:
Long enough, God--
you’ve ignored me long enough.
I’ve looked at the back of your head
long enough. Long enough
I’ve carried this ton of trouble,
lived with a stomach full of pain.
Long enough my arrogant enemies
have looked down their noses at me.
Take a good look at me, God, my God;
I want to look life in the eye,
So no enemy can get the best of me
or laugh when I fall on my face.
I’ve thrown myself headlong into your arms--
I’m celebrating your rescue.
I’m singing at the top of my lungs,
I’m so full of answered prayers.
Who is writing?
In my work as Christian Science practitioner and writer I draw on listening to God and listening to people.
I invest in peace.
Want to join me?