A Melting Metaphor

By Michael Temple

Photo by Dreamstime

Falling down on the ice isn’t as inconsequential as it once seemed to be when I was a kid. There’s something about frozen water on a pedestrian passageway that gets my attention. As an adult I’ve occasionally fallen hard on slippery surfaces, and not once have I enjoyed it. Between scraping my entire right shin from my ankle to my kneecap, and knocking the wind out of myself to a point where it felt like I might never get my breath back, I do my level best to avoid getting “horizontal” when going outside during the winter months.
 
When I was younger, I never thought twice about running across an icy area and allowing my winter boots to slide me the rest of the way to my destination, but now I look for methods of avoiding icy pathways. I’ve even been known to wade into the deep, snowy sidelines of a perfectly smooth sidewalk to escape the treacherously glassy patches of ice that sometimes hide themselves beneath the fine powdery dusting of snow that grazes the cement. 
 
There are a number of methods for getting rid of the ice that has accumulated on the surfaces that people tread. One can chop and pick away at it with a sidewalk scraper but this can take some time depending on the thickness of the ice. Waiting for the warm weather of spring is certainly an option but one that I haven’t had the luxury of experiencing during my working years. I guess I could move my family to warmer climates, but I like it here.
 
I usually opt for the melting method, and although there are a number of products that can be purchased to complete this task, most often I find myself loading a large bag of plain rock salt into the shopping cart. This product doesn’t seem so chemical-laden to me, and besides, if there’s ever a time when I need to make homemade ice cream, that task is almost impossible without having some rock salt around. 
 
If the sidewalk by our home is icy, I don’t chip, scrape and fuss. I grab the bag of rock salt. It takes only a few minutes to spread an even layer over the surface and then I go back inside. Fifteen to 20 minutes later, and I can see bare cement once again.  I still proceed with caution but I am thankful for the melting qualities of those briny little crystals.
 
“You are the salt of the earth…” ( Matthew 5:13).
 
I know, I know…this verse is speaking about the idea that salt flavors things, and in the broader context, those who claim to follow the Creator ought to bring a godly, savory zest to everything that they come in contact with.  I do believe, however, that the ability to also use that salty flavor of character to melt away some of the behavioral “icy-ness” we experience in our daily interactions with others helps to smooth out life’s surface.  Why take the chance of slipping and falling in our encounters with others…when we can use salt?