Salt of the earth

Persians say that a salad is best made
by a miser pouring the vinegar,
a rich man drizzling the oil
and an insane man heaping on the garlic.
What I saw was a poor man
who sprinkled every grain of salt he owned,
joyously, on everyone’s plate.

This story comes from a Bahá’í conference that took place in Bukavu, Rwanda, a town along the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or what was then called Zaire. The main conference meal consisted of salad greens, roast goat, beans and manioc, the local term for the cassava tuber from which tapioca is derived. (Most Westerners don’t like manioc, but I developed a bit of a taste for it. But I’ll eat anything, so this was not surprising to my family.)

He was an elderly gentleman who, with a radiant heart, shared with us what we worried was just about all he owned, his bag of salt. As I look back on that day, I will never forget the look on his face or how he smiled as he sprinkled the salt on everybody’s plate. His face was lit so joyously and he acted with such generosity that all we could do was humbly accept his kindness.

Thank you for reading Salt of the earth. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.


© 2012 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. This poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © 2012 by John Etheridge,

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