Monday, October 18, 2010
Salsa for the Soul (by Judy)
When you think of salsa, what adjectives come to mind? Hot, spicy, fiery, zesty, piquant (from the Spanish “picar” meaning “to sting”). Salsa is currently the condiment of choice for a majority of Americans. It has a tomato or tomatillo base, with onions, garlic, lime juice and peppers to fill in the spaces. Then a creative cook can add whatever ingredients are handy – black beans, corn, avocado, cilantro, cumin. Yum!
However, there are variations on the basic ingredients, which cause a completely different dish to emerge. Heretics have been known to chop up mango, pineapple, papaya, melon, strawberries ginger, mint and other options, creating a delicious mixture, which simply can’t be called salsa.
You may be wondering where this ode to legitimate salsa is going, and what it has to do with two mid-sixties friends who delight in sharing the gospel. It has to do with a class that I am teaching at my school called Farmhands. As well as caring for lambs, bees, herbs and veggies, our students occasionally prepare fresh foods for students to enjoy – most recently, salsa. Against my better judgment, I bought the standard ingredients, and also the deviant ones. As they chopped and tossed, weeping openly over the onions, they filled two bowls to the brim.
As one student passed by, she commented, “Oh look – one bowl is so vibrant; and the other is so muted.” My first response was pleasure that a 7th grader would use such adjectives; my second to unravel the applications for a Christian. What do our congregations, prayer groups and Bible studies look like? Vibrant, or muted? Are we fiery and zesty as we make much of Jesus, or sweet, flowery and delicate? Though I recognize that there is a place for both, at the table and in the pew, it is the sharp pungency that most often encourages our spirits, catches the attention of others, and strengthens our bodies, minds and souls!