During our various field presentations and worship times, I was injecting a bit of salt. A too-obvious symbol for a SALT conference? Not if you dig into the less-than-obvious Covenant of Salt, mentioned only three times in the Old Testament. And dug I did...one cannot be obvious in a group of artists, without getting the artistic equivalent of a tomato thrown at you.
The digging was especially appropriate after Erica had led us in a simulated archaeologic dig, with kits from Toys R Us! As we chipped away for the 'gems' hidden in these plaster blocks (child safe no doubt), we were to consider the digging it took to find the gems hidden in each culture.
And one of the gems I have found in Hebrew culture was the Covenant of Salt--a subject that has fascinated me for years, but for which I could find little in literature or on the internet.
And so I created my own little bit of liturgy, asking the students to bring salt from their countries. If any eye-rolling went on at that request, no one shared it. The salt mostly came, and those that didn't bring any bought it in town and eventually brought in an offering.
I read some of the gems of history and Scripture that I had found--about the depths and meanings of covenants, and the salt added to the sacrifices, salt water at the Passover Seder, and the move of salt away from the table and into rites of baptism, healing and exorcism. Why that transition away from covenant meals? I don't know, but if any of you do, please fill me in!
The Arabs have expressions that retain the early covenant-making element that salt, um, brought to the table: "There is salt between us" and "We have eaten salt together." How appropriate as we spent 3 days together sharing hearts, plans, challenges and dreams--literally and figuratively, we ate salt together.
At our closing communion/commissioning time, the table of salt came over to join the communion table, and the salt was mixed in one big bowl--pink, gray, white--from which we scooped and filled a salt shaker for each one. We prayed over one another, overfilled shakers and made a mess on the floor, sprinkled salt over one another, and finally sent each other off with salt shakers. But not before the worship kicked in again, and we included the final element of the covenant of salt: healing. Prayers for the healing of a number of our artists began, while the dancers and musicians lifted the roof off once again.
Yes, the salt was flying...I've not scratched the surface of this deeply symbolic little grain, but plan to keep on digging, with my new salt shaker sitting on the counter encouraging me on.