Salt and Pepper Shakers

Then Jesus took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” ~ Luke 22:19

The heart of most spiritual practice is simply this: Remember. ~ Wayne Muller, How, Then, Shall We Live?

Remember… remember… Remember…

I did a lot of remembering this past week while emptying out Mom’s storage unit at Mancos Valley Storage. Lots of dishes, pots and pans, silverware. An odd coffee table that Mom picked up at a garage sale. Some old pictures and scrapbooks, artwork from the grandkids to “Grandma Sue” from their elementary school days. Each item was really worth nothing to the outside world, but everything contained a sacred memory. I remembered and cherished all of them.

I found mom’s old western saddle buried under a blanket. Holding the worn saddle, I could see mom riding every horse–Silver, Tonka, Cheerio, Thunder, Dan the Man–she loved over the years. Mom rarely had a registered horse. She picked up rescue horses, lost horses, or as Mom liked to say, “I got Sneaky before she went to the glue factory.” Every horse was her best horse ever.

When one of my good friends, Joe, died the summer of my freshman year, Joe’s parents (Ruth and Doyle) couldn’t keep his horse Mama anymore. It was just too painful for them, so Mom agreed to care for Joe’s horse. Every year Ruth and Doyle would call Mom to see how Mama was doing. Mama had a big swayed back and a gentle spirit. When Mom and Mama were together, I couldn’t tell who was taking care of who. Love is mutual.

I laughed and shook my head when I found a set of West Bend aluminum salt and pepper shakers. “Why would Mom keep these old things?” I thought. I rolled the shakers around in my hand, examining each scratch and dent, the salt label faded beyond recognition. Someone busted the plastic lid on the saltshaker. I bet I could not get fifty cents for them at a garage sale. What a strange thing to keep?

I held the salt and pepper shakers. I could not remember a day from my childhood when these salt and pepper shakers weren’t sitting on the stove top in Mom’s kitchen. How many meals did Mom season with them over the years? I saw her hands adding a little salt and pepper to our smothered steak and potatoes. I tasted her scrambled eggs. I remembered the family meals my mom, my dad, my sister, and I ate every night. These shakers sat in the middle of our table. When I grabbed the salt shaker, Mom would say, “Taste before you season.” I smiled at the memory.

Mom loved to cook meals for our family and for the community. I remembered Mom and Peggy Sewell cooking chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes and gravy for our high school football and basketball teams over the years. She continued to cook meals for her grandkids, the Mancos kids, and our youth group. I remembered all the Thanksgiving meals and Christmas dinners. Mom made each meal with great love and kindness, always with a little salt and pepper sprinkled on top.

I bet I could not get fifty cents for these salt and pepper shakers at a garage sale.

I tossed the salt and pepper shakers in the air outside the storage unit and caught them. I remembered how I’d get home late at night from school and practice and Mom always had dinner waiting for me in the oven. I’d eat a plate of fried chicken or goulash with a little more salt and pepper sprinkled on. Mom would sit next to me, and she would ask me about my day. She wanted to know everything that happened. I smiled at the memory.

I bet I could not get fifty cents for these salt and pepper shakers, but I put them in the “keep” pile.

Wayne Muller writes, “The heart of most spiritual practice is simply this: Remember. Remember who you are. Remember what you love. Remember what is sacred. Remember what is true. Remember that you will die, and that this day is a gift. Remember how you wish to live.”

Jesus took some bread, something ordinary, and blessed it. When you eat this bread remember me, he said. Remember my love for the children, the elderly, the sick, the poor. Remember my compassion and kindness for the widows and the ill. Remember that ordinary things, moments, and people are sacred and holy. Remember to add a little salt and pepper to life because it is good, very, very good.

Blessings and Peace,

Practice: Find something special you keep around the house or in the garage. Hold it. Look at it. What memories does it contain? Journal a little. Remember that the ordinary can be sacred and holy.