Mud and Spit
When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam.” Then he went and washed and came back able to see. John 9:6-7
Two naturally occurring substances that apparently have devolved into manifestations of abject evil in my lifetime are saliva and mud. When I was a child, it was common for my mother to lick her finger or handkerchief to clean something from my face or clothing. To clean his glasses, my dad always put a lens in his open mouth, huffed moist air onto the lens, and then wiped it off with his handkerchief. My friends and I regularly played in the mud, making pies, forts, and balls. When there was not enough mud readily available, we made more with the water hose. It was great, readily available, albeit messy fun. Today, it seems, playing in the mud is only slightly more sanitary than swimming in the sewer.
I have a less-than-pleasant memory of the first (and last) time I tried to clean something off the face of one of my children – in the presence of my wife – by first licking my finger. Carrie, unlike me, was not raised on mom-spit and did not approve of her children being subjected to it. It was not convincing to remind her that saliva is a Biblical remedy. In John 9, Jesus restores a man’s sight with mud made by spitting in the dirt. In Mark 7, Jesus heals a deaf and dumb man by licking his finger and sticking in the man’s ears and on his tongue. Admittedly, there may be a difference in the composition of my spit and that of Jesus…
I suspect my mother used spit as a cleaner because it was always available. If we were near a sink, she would have used a wet rag to wipe the debris from my face. Her use of mom-spit was probably less about hygiene and more about expediency. Even so, I am not ready to concede that there is something inherently harmful about a little parental saliva on otherwise unbroken skin – or mud, for that matter, including mud made with saliva.
Sometimes in life, we need something readily available more than we need something perfectly suited to the job, something with the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. It is a fundamental reason I am thankful for my faith. When I need to remember who I am, or that I am loved and valued, or when a sin-smudge appears on my cheek, I know God is always available. I do not have to remember a bunch of prayer rules, nor do I need to be in church or kneeling at my bedside. I do not have to worry about the words I use, my enunciation, or being grammatically correct. God knows, sees, and hears my heart and is always ready to attend to me, perhaps even with a wet finger.
Come home to church this Sunday. It’s finger-lickin’ good!