Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Salt and Pepper (07/24/14)
TITLE: No Longer Salty, Pickled and Sour
By JK Stenger
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My Father rolled his eyes and I could hear deep displeasure in his voice.
“A meal without salt and pepper is as dull as dishwater.” To prove his point he added more salt to his already salty hamburger and sprinkled his mashed potatoes with extra pepper.
“Mmm… this is good!” He smacked his lips and glared at me obstinately.
Father was a self-made man of 81 years old. He never took no for an answer and sincerely believed he knew everything just a bit better than everybody else. It had been the source of many arguments, but since I had left home years ago it had no longer bothered me.
But that day I was back at home and I made the mistake of questioning his eating habits.
“You may be smart,” he sneered, “But God knows you don’t know everything.”
“Of course, Dad; I know that. But you are taking too much salt, which can cause kidney problems and high blood pressure. Too much pepper can cause ulcers. I love you but at your age...”
“What’s my age gotta do with it?” Dad’s face turned red and he swallowed hard.
“I was already eating salt and pepper when you were still in diapers and sucking baby milk. This spices up my life.
Then he mumbled to himself: "Life without salt is just not worth living.”
O Lord. Why is my Dad so stubborn?”
He was a good man, and had his gentle moments. He was very religious too. He had attended church for as far back as I can remember. He was on a first name basis with all the pastors and generously donated to every church venture. Still, I wondered if he really knew God. Everything had to go by the rules, and he could be hard and unbending. No, Dad was well pickled, sour and salted, but he sure wasn’t the salt of the earth...
“Yes, I am ordering it.” The doctor looked my Dad straight in the eyes. He wasn’t going to back down even though my Dad’s eyes flashed ominously.
“No more salt… No more pepper.” He stuck his pen back in his coat pocket and started to leave the hospital room.
My Dad had problems with kidney stones. He was fine for the moment, but blood tests had revealed a whole array of other serious, health problems, and salt and even pepper were things that now belonged to the past. Life was about to change.
“It’s alright, Charles,” My mother held his hand affectionately. “We will cook...”
“It’s never going to be alright.” Dad rudely interrupted her, turned to the wall and closed his eyes.
The night after he came home from the hospital Dad broke down.
I had never seen him cry before. When I came in he sat in front of the television, his dinner plate with hamburger and mashed potatoes resting on his lap. He looked up, not even try to hide his despair.
“Dad… are you alright?” I knelt by his chair and took his hand.
“It tastes awful without salt and pepper, Son.” I could barely hear his voice through his sobs.
“I can’t do it anymore.” Big salty tears dripped on his mashed potatoes. “All my life I was strong and in control. But it’s over. I can’t even eat the things I like anymore.”
He looked so frail and vulnerable and my heart went out to him.
“Why does it have to be like this? What’s the point?” He looked up at me with teary eyes. “I am useless…like salt without flavor; pepper without taste.”
I felt like crying myself.
God give me wisdom.
“Dad, you compare yourself to useless salt, but may I be frank with you?”
“Of course son…”
You can still become God’s real salt. God creates His true salt in the furnace of affliction. You are there now. It’s part of the refining process.”
Another tear fell on his plate.
“You have never really surrendered to God. Let Him take control… Yield to life. Yield to God. You may not be able to spice up your food, but you can still spice up the world.”
For a moment he seemed confused. Then he looked up; his face hopeful; almost radiant.
“I want that, Son… I want that very much.”
Together we knelt and prayed. Dad finally surrendered.
No longer salty, pickled and sour, he became the salt of the earth.
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