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Day 9: Salt


I could not help but think of Lot’s wife when I heard that our topic for today is “salt.” And then I could not help but think of a poem by an Orthodox poet I like a whole lot. So rather than ramble on about the other things that come to mind- salt and high blood pressure and whether the pink himalayan sea salt I just bought really is some kind of wonder working miracle- I thought I’d just offer up these words for your perusal.

They’re pretty good words, in my humble opinion.

The Turning of Lot’s Wife

Scott Cairns

Genesis 19. 23-26

First of all, she had a name, and she had a history. She was Marah, and long before the breath of death’s angel turned her to bitter dust, she had slipped from her mother’s womb with remarkable ease, had moved in due time from infancy to womanhood with a manner of grace that came to be the sole blessing of her aging parents. She was beloved.

And like most daughters who are beloved by both a mother and a father, Marah moved about her city with unflinching compassion, tending to the dispossessed as if they were her own. And they became her own. In a city given to all species of excess, there were a great many in agony– abandoned men, abandoned women, abandoned children. Upon these she poured out her substance and her care.

Her first taste of despair was at the directive of the messengers, who announced without apparent sentiment what was to come, and what was to be done. With surprising banality, they stood and spoke. One coughed dryly into his fist and would not meet her eyes. And one took a sip from the cup she offered before he handed it back and the two disappeared into the night. Unlike her husband–coward and sycophant–the woman remained faithful unto death. For even as the man fled the horrors of a city’s conflagration, outrunning Marah and both girls as they all rushed into the desert, the woman stopped. She looked ahead briefly to the flat expanse, seeing her tall daughters, whose strong legs and churning arms were taking them safely to the hills; she saw, farther ahead, the old man whom she had served and comforted for twenty years. In the impossible interval where she stood, Marah saw that she could not turn her back on even one doomed child of the city, but must turn her back instead upon the saved.

#scottcairns #lotswife #poetry #poem #salt