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I can’t do this anymore! I admitted to myself, gripping my cane. Like stricken puppies, my legs, refused to move, despite my commanding them to do so. I was beached, immobile, furious, a storm crashing within me.

I had already checked into the YMCA, was sucking a lemon cough drip, and was standing at my usual start position by the entrance. Ahead of me stretched the wide corridor; its recessed lighting reflecting upon the floor had helped me maintain balance the four months I’d been coming here. My helper waited for me to begin my customary walk toward the gym and the exercise room, her shadowing each step lest I fall.

That was three days ago, an experience that left me floundering in self-pity, one of the faces of grief.

It’s all about acceptance: my terminal illness has taken another hit—and there have been many—but not as pronounced as this one: Weakness like I’ve never experienced, shortness of breath that worsens speech production, and muscle loss that rouses issues of disease gnawing away at my body, despite still eating full meals prepared by helpers or brought by friends.

Yes, there’s change. Rather than use my cane, I rely upon my wheeled walker to get about—It’s slower but still works. Happily, I’m still able to blog the ongoing experience of my terminal illness, and if appropriate, I will return to the Y’s NuStep and exercise my legs—not to walk as before, of course, but to keep going, one day at a time with Precious God’s help. Besides, I’ve friends there.

“Hmmm! That’s it!” overheard from a chef, having just added a pinch of salt to the white sauce simmering in his copper pot.

A farm-raised senior remembers how her mother packed garden cabbages in salt and cured meats before storing them in their root cellar for their winter table.

Stories of salt, critical for human survival, abound in every civilization, as seasoning, as preservative, as a disinfectant for wounds, as a unit of exchange. Control over salt beds has provoked numerous wars in all times. In our country, access to salt affected the outcomes of the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. And in 1877, the dried lake beds at the foot of the Guadalupe Mountains in San Elizario, Texas sparked an unwinnable controversy among the Mexicans and Anglo- and African-Americans.

On a deeper level, however, salt stimulates spirit growth. Without it, we become listless, vulnerable to disease, adhering to the tried and proven path. Change is out of the question. Spiritual Masters decry such stagnation and urge arduous practices of cleansing, of clearing out the old, effecting the total reeducation of our thoughts and choices.

One of these Masters is Jesus of Nazareth who still salts his adherents with counter-cultural stances: poor in spirit, meek, mournful, merciful, clean of heart, peacemakers, open to suffering, and hungering for what is right. With such seasoning, we do make a difference in the conflicted world around us.

What if everyone acted upon Jesus’s teaching: “Have salt in yourselves and be at peace with one another?” (Mark 7:50)


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