“You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.” – Matthew 5: 13 (NRSV)
For quite some time now I have been fascinated with incorporating “being” in my life and awareness. This hasn’t been easy, nor is it ever “done.” (I know I’m using quotation marks a lot here, but bear with me…)
A term and concept that has gained a lot of attention is mindfulness. This is an aspect of being that I include in my dialogues, but my growing understanding and experience of being (I’m dropping the quotation marks for that word at this point…) is only part of it.
Mindfulness, to me, is being fully aware of the moment in which I reside, at any given moment. It implies a certain kind of attention that is neither cast backward nor forward. One way of looking at how I apprehend being at this time is kind of mindfulness without the attention. Let me explain further….
Everything that is, is. Aware or not, it is. Being, to me, has this lovely, settled, undeniable fact to it. There is no striving, no “trying to be”, no exerted movement, just getting to the next moment, which is happening and over which I have no control. I believe it was Thomas Merton who wrote that each moment is pregnant with the next….that’s what I’m mentioning here.
So why all the up-front clarification (…such as it is…) about being?
A bit more background: I have been drawn to the portion of the Bible commonly referred to as the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) for quite some time. While there are untold amounts of scholarship, study and analysis available on this portion of the Bible, I have been drawn by the text itself, references to sections of it in other things I have read and heard over the years, and how we, as people of God, have challenges around Jesus’ teachings here. I will return repeatedly to this over time, but in this article I am paying attention to being as I understand it in this passage.
First of all, going all the way back to the beginning of the Bible, the creation stories of Genesis 1 and 2, there are a couple of things that stand out to me:
1. God says something, and it is. “Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good;…” – Genesis 1:3-4a (NRSV) There is no “starting to be” or “eventually” implied (that isn’t to say that these things didn’t take time…but, when you’re God, time doesn’t have any meaning, so He says it, it takes place….stay with me…)
2. God says it’s all good. “God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good.” – Genesis 1:31a (NRSV) He never spoke anything into being and then said, “Meh….”
Now, first a quick disclaimer: I’m not advocating a literalist interpretation of the creation stories. I am proposing that God’s creative Word is exactly that….creative. Spoken, it becomes reality. Our awareness of that reality is part of our True Self (a term used by numerous mystics when referring to who we are as God creates us: “So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” – Genesis 1:27 (NRSV)) That awareness is a gift.
So, my next step on this path is the Gospel of John: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.” – John 1:1-4 (NRSV) In this marvelous opening, John proclaims Jesus as the Word of God, and that all things came into (and come into) being through him. So this, I believe, lends tremendous power to the things he says. As the Word of God, if you follow my path here, what he says IS, in a truly real way. Which brings me back to the verse at the top of this article….
I was in an online conversation recently in which I wrote that I was called to be salt (thinking about this verse…). I spent more time sitting with this verse and the path of understanding I outline here, and I began to realize that this is no call….it is statement of creation and fact.
I AM salt of the earth, as are so many others. I’m not “called” to be salt….I’m not “challenged” to be salt…..I’m not “becoming” salt (as I normally understand “becoming”…). I am this salt. I’m still meditating on how this is manifest in my life, but I am grateful that I can live out of this part of my being because of Jesus’ creative word and his grace.
There are a lot of other creative words, of course. I will write about my experiences and spin out some stories about how God is showing up in my life and the lives of those around me. I pray you realize the reality of your True Self in Jesus’ grace and creative word, and join me in being, among other things, salt of this world.