Seasoned with Pillars of Salt

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Lot’s Wife and salt.  Perhaps it is since I’ve been married and a part of a Jewish family and toured Israel that my thoughts have rested on the pillar of salt. lots wife

I remember when I first read the Poem “Lot’s Wife” by Kristine Batey in college. It was part of a feminist unit. In my twenty-something mind, I saw all the surface meaning of standing up for women’s roles and standing against patriarchal authority here on earth an above. Girl Power. We did not go into the details of a Jewish woman’s life nor the battle of faith and how different cultures existed. Nor did we investigate the meaning of salt and how important it was to society and religion.

Having grown up hearing all the Christian church teachings of Lot’s Wife being not just a bad wife, but bad Christian (even though she was Jewish). She was disobedient to her husband and to God. She looked back. Was it punishment or did she see God coming down on Sodom that turned her into a pillar? Nothing like sitting cross-legged in front of flannel board in elementary Sunday school being told the worst will happen-boom-a pillar of salt.

I find it interesting it is salt. “The role of salt in the Bible is relevant to understanding Hebrew society during the Old Testament and New Testament periods. Salt is a necessity of life and was a mineral that was used since ancient times in many cultures as a seasoning, a preservative, a disinfectant, a component of ceremonial offerings, and as a unit of exchange.”

f438e6812bbd7d6718f4e0d3f4ed7aa3Now, I don’t just see the poem but feel it. I see and sense the passion of my husband and his dad when terror happens in Israel or the news yet again twists and demonizes Israel. I see them both become lost in contemplation and study. Their fight for the Jewish people and to do what is right. The ire and sadness that will envelope them and days of turmoil: But food even with salt must be made, laundry done, and the practicalities continue.

Lot’s Wife has been described as careless, cold, and disobedient. We see a brief picture of a woman during a time of great turmoil and her husband wrapped in a life and a Presence she could only be on the fringes of. What if someone took a glimpse of my life on day of stress, turmoil or a bad day between my husband and me? What if they looked at a Facebook day of my husband posting pro-Israel and blasting haters on comment threads? I posted a cat video or liked a quote by Gandhi. Is this my judgement?

b81ee0f7673b45639a9b91513dd10c7ePracticality is not a term in the fight of faith. It is not a term when in commune with God. It is a term for Lot’s wife and for those who struggle with Eternal thoughts and earthly responsibilities.

“It is easy for eyes that have always turned to heaven
not to look back;
those who have been–by necessity–drawn to earth
cannot forget that life is lived from day to day.
Good, to a God, and good in human terms
are two different things.”

Indeed it is and continues to be the struggle.

Lot’s Wife by Kristine Batey

While Lot, the conscience of a nation,
struggles with the Lord,
she struggles with the housework.
The City of Sin is where
she raises the children.
Ba’al or Adonai–
Whoever is God–
the bread must still be made
and the doorsill swept.
The Lord may kill the children tomorrow,
but today they must be bathed and fed.
Well and good to condemn your neighbors’ religion,
but weren’t they there
when the baby was born,
and when the well collapsed?
While her husband communes with God,
she tucks the children into bed.
In the morning, when he tells her of the judgment,
[that is, God’s decision to destroy the city]
she puts down the lamp she is cleaning
and calmly begins to pack.
In between bundling up the children
and deciding what will go,
she runs for a moment
to say goodbye to the herd,
gently patting each soft head
with tears in her eyes for the animals that will not understand.
She smiles blindly to the woman
who held her hand at childbed.
It is easy for eyes that have always turned to heaven
not to look back;
those who have been–by necessity–drawn to earth
cannot forget that life is lived from day to day.
Good, to a God, and good in human terms
are two different things.
On the breast of the hill, she chooses to be human,
and turns, in farewell–
and never regrets
the sacrifice.

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