I don’t use salt in my cooking and don’t even have it in my spice cabinet. So when I was making a cake one day I went out into the Fellowship Room where we have 8 long tables each with salt and pepper shakers. I picked up a salt shaker and it was empty. I thought, “Hmm.” I went to the next table and picked up the salt shaker and it too was empty! By this time all the “spiritual mentoring” alarms were going off in me! The next table… empty… as were all the rest! Empty salt shakers on all of the eight tables! So this means that whoever picked up an empty shaker just put it down! Everyone found it preferable to deprive themselves of salt rather than inconvenience themselves to fill it! In other words, “Let someone else do it!” So much for sacrificial love!
Our parish currently has 53 people (40 adults and 13 kids) and they are some of the most generous, warmhearted and kind people you could ever want to be in a relationship with! And yet “the salt shaker episode” made clear to me that even good people can be blind to further growth toward the goodness which a “spiritual life” calls us. I find a majority of people think a spiritual life (if they even think of it at all) has to do with feelings and thoughts! The fact is that spiritual life is not about what we think or feel (although these can influence how we act) but IS about how we live with others! These behaviors are the incarnation of what we actually and most deeply believe! Belief is experiential. Belief is like a seed that only fulfills its purpose when it germinates, grows and bears fruit.
For those of us who are Christians, Jesus Christ has commanded (not suggested!) that we love others. Love on the level of which Christ speaks is not good feelings toward others but is about how we are in our relationship with others. Our words, our tone of voice, our actions, what we will or won’t do for them are all examples. Do we love them to the extent of inconveniencing ourselves by getting up and filling the salt shakers so when someone else wants salt it will be there? Or do we give in to the pull of our narcissism and leave the task to someone else?
Being both an Orthodox Priest and an Orthodox Monk people sometimes engage me in conversations about various theologies. If forced by the situation I will engage in such conversation but I am actually not at all interested in talking theology, strange as that may sound! I am more interested in how we relate to one another since how we are in our relationships SHOWS what we most deeply believe. From within the midst of our relationships the Divine whispers what needs to change about us in order to become better than just good. When it comes to goodness “good enough” isn’t enough! I am happy to report our salt shakers here are now never empty! In my book full shakers are as profound as any theological lesson! Which leads me to ask you… are YOUR shakers full or empty?