By: Deacon Marty McIndoe
I have lived almost all of my life on an island, surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the Long Island Sound. I feel very blessed by that. The sea part of me. Every year my wife and I usually try to escape to warm weather for the months of January and February.
Two years ago we spent the time in the southwest traveling around Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and inland Southern California. We absolutely loved it and appreciated the beauty of the southwest. However, I really felt like I was out of place. I was no where near any large body of salt water. It just didn’t seem right to me. I was out of place, literally.
This year we did our winter getaway in the south and in Florida and stayed almost all of the time in timeshares that were on the beach, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean or Gulf of Mexico. I felt so much more at home than I did on our desert trip. There is a real comfort and awe when we look out on the ocean. For me, I see and feel God in the beauty and immensity of the ocean.
I came across a quote from Isak Dinesen (also known as Tania Blixen author of “Out of Africa”) from her “Seven Gothic Tales” which consisted of the following dialogue:
An old seaman says to his unhappy foster-son, “I know of a cure for everything: Salt water.”
“Salt water?” I asked him.
“Yes,” he said, “in one way or the other. Sweat, or tears, or the salt sea.”
History of Salt
I couldn’t help but to see the truth in that statement. The cure for everything is “Sweat or Tears or the Salt Sea”. It’s interesting to see the history of man’s use of salt. The Hebrew Scriptures (The Old Testament) value salt so much that it was considered to be able to be used as a gift to God as a “covenant of salt” (Lev. 2: 13; II Chron. 13:5; Num. 18:19). It was also used in sacrifices by the Israelites (Ezek. 43:24 and Gen. 31:54). Belief in its preservative and healing properties led to its use to dry and harden the skin of newborns (Ezek. 16:4) and to prevent umbilical cord infection.
The Egyptians and the Persians considered it such a special commodity that it could only be handled by their royalty. The ancient Romans paid their soldiers their wages in salt (Latin word is “sal”) from which we today get the word “salary” and the expression, “worth his weight in salt”.
Salt had been used for over 3500 years as a preservative for meats and a flavoring for food. It is still seen as a sign of hospitality and friendship in the Middle East. In Mark Chapter 9, verse 50 Jesus says, “Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.” St. Paul’s tells us in Col. 4:6:”Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Jesus also called His followers to be the “salt of the earth”. Salt is all about preservation, healing, and peace.
The Church has a special prayer for the blessing of salt. After the blessing, the salt is often placed in Holy Water, or sometimes used by itself. This prayer, from the Roman Ritual says,
Almighty God, we ask you to bless this salt, as once you blessed the salt scattered over the water by the prophet Elisha. Wherever this salt (and water) is sprinkled, drive away the power of evil, and protect us always by the presence of your Holy Spirit. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Salt is also seen as a means of driving away evil or preserving one from evil corruption.
Salt is found naturally in the sea, in our tears, and in our sweat. All three of these can help to heal us. As motivational speaker Rita Schiano tell us, “Tears are God’s gift to us. Our holy water. They heal us as they flow”. Tears come to us from our very being. They are responses to hurt and loss as well as happiness and gain.
Tears can be shed from earthy stimuli such as movies and can also be shed from spiritual stimuli such as God’s Word or the touch of Christian love. They are an expression that sometimes can speak louder and clearer than words. They bring us healing in so many ways.
Sweat of our brow
Sweat is a result of our hard work. The Catholic Church has always stressed the importance of work in our lives. The Protestant Churches are also known for their work ethic. Work is not only necessary for civilization to flourish, but it brings a sense of purpose and often healing to the individual. It also helps us to accomplish our dreams. Colin Powell tells us, “A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.”
We find our happiness in working hard for our dreams whether it be as simple (yet profound) as a man or woman working hard to support their family, or a researcher finding the cure for cancer. Work, and sweat, are part of who we are called to be.
God’s Gift of Water
The Sea is a special gift to us from God. Our scientists tell us that life itself originated there. For us, it is a place to enjoy in so many different ways whether it is swimming and fishing or simply gazing out towards its majesty. As John F. Kennedy told us, “We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch – we are going back from whence we came.” The Sea can truly be a healing influence in our lives.
In writing this article, I hope to make you think and pray about the healing influence of the Sea, Sweat and Tears. I am including some quotes for you to think about and pray about and see how the Lord may be speaking to you. I hope that you find some quiet time to pray and think about these quotes. May our good Lord bless you and bring you His healing love. May you come to better realize the healing gifts given to us in Salt Water: the Sea, Tears or Sweat.
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Thank you for reading and hope you have a blessed day!