Two and a half hours outside Salzburg
in the Salzkammergut, the Lake District,
an area encompassing the Dachstein Mountains,
[the Roof Stone Mountains],
the Totes Gebirge [the Dead Mountains],
and the Höllengebirge [Hell’s Mountains]
and 76 lakes),
Hallstatt is a small community of about 1000
squeezed between the waters of an alpine lake
and the steep rise of the Dachstein mountains.
We arrived by train on one side of the lake
and were ferried across
for some time in this unique village.
Still a salt mining community
with archeological evidence
of Roman mining,
and Celtic mining before that—
with Iron Age tools and Bronze Age,
and Stone Age evidence
of work up to 7,000 years ago!
“Hall” was the Celtic word for salt.
Thus, Hallstatt, city of salt.
The best known preservative for thousands of years,
salt represented consistent prosperity
and development through the years.
As one of our guides pointed out,
“Before there was black gold in the deserts,
there was white gold in the mountains.”
Our word salary, in fact, comes from the Latin salarium,
originally what was paid a soldier for purchasing salt.
And so the phrase “You are the salt of the earth,”
brings more to the table
than just a metaphor about culinary seasoning!
You preserve, is the word.
You preserve the wealth that truly is wealth,
the life that truly is life.
May we persistently mine our experience
to name this truth.