Spit’s an important ingredient.
There was never a fine chicken cordon bleu or filet mignon but spit made it so.
You won’t find it on the back of the cereal box or the menu of that coffee shop you like so much, but it’s as important as any element you will find there. Spit is the diner’s contribution to the culinary arts; an edible catalyst: is has no flavor of its own, but without it, the meal itself holds little taste.
I wonder what the old blind man thought when he heard the wandering rabbi spit on the ground. I wonder if he braced himself for humiliation or disgrace. I wonder if he cried out at the cold, wet mud smeared on his face. I wonder what it was like to wash the mud away and see the world for the first time.
I’ve often thought about image of Jesus spitting. It always seemed like an odd moment to me. As if he said to all around, “Look what even my spit can do.” My saliva adds flavor to french fries. Godspit makes miracles of mud.
When someone sings a song or plays an instrument at church, I always hear this exchange after the service.
“Oh, you play/sing so wonderfully.”
“Well, I can’t take any credit…it’s all God.”
This is a perfectly nice thing to say, and is appropriately humble, but it also raises some unusual questions.
Is there any reason to practice or work at your craft if God is the only one who is responsible for whether it’s good?
If God is responsible for someone who sings a lovely song in church, is he also responsible for someone who sings an awful one?
I’ve heard some people say, “Anything I’ve done well is because of God…anything that sucks is my fault.” Again, this is nice and polite and humble, but it has the unintended effect of making God sound like a credit-grabbing douche-nozzle.
Which, before you take that quote out of context, I’m not saying.
So which is it? Are we beautiful, strong, creative people who don’t need no God? Or are we art-producing automatons, operating under pre-ordained programming?
Here’s a different way to look at it:
All of us who create: singers, writers, musicians, painters, video editors, scientists, programmers, carpenters…we are all chefs in a great big metaphorical restaurant. And each of us is working on some magnificent dish. Some of us haven’t had much practice, or don’t put much effort into it, microwaving cups of ramen and making lopsided PB&Js. And others are dedicating their lives to creating the perfect crème brûlée. Billions of hands and voices all making something different, something spectacularly unique.
Some people will always be better at certain things, whether from natural-born talents, decades of training and hard work, or, in most cases, both. And we should celebrate this! We should celebrate the effort put into creating something and creating it well.
We are the salt of the earth, making everything salty and bold and exciting…but none of our efforts mean anything without God’s spit to release their flavor.
Whether or not this analogy is true (we can argue hypotheticals and metaphors until the moon turns green), I think we should live as if it is. We should pour our energy into making every creative endeavor all it can be, constantly improving our skills and abilities. And we should also acknowledge that we do not succeed entirely by our own merits.
It’s a God thing. And a you thing. And a me thing.
So go off and make things! And may God spit on everything you create, be it masterpiece or mudpie.