Salt, part 2

Salt is a curious substance. Just about every living creature needs small amounts of sodium chloride to keep it alive and healthy. However, too much salt can start to cause major health problems, like high blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease in humans just to name a few. Salt is a naturally occurring substance in nature, especially in rock deposits and ocean water. It’s needed for life. However, if there is too high of a salt concentration in the soil, plants cannot grow. And if there is too high a concentration in the water, fish cannot live.

This is why we have a place called the Dead Sea. Located at the lowest point on land, the Dead Sea is literally a drainage pool collecting all the minerals and salts from the land around it. The Dead Sea is completely incapable of supporting life within its waters. What’s more, none of the land surrounding the Dead Sea is capable of supporting life. There is no naturally occurring plant growth for miles around. Just off the shore is an entire mountain made completely our of salt and a few other minerals.

Yet in one of the most lifeless spots on planet earth we find healing. King Herod built one of the first health resorts on its banks. Even today, there are a number of hotels, resorts, and spas surrounding the Dead Sea. What we have found over the years is that the same minerals which prevent the formation and sustenance of life also bring healing and restoration to our bodies. It cleanses the skin by removing the dead skin cells and toxins. After a dip in its waters, one’s skin feels smooth and refreshed.

Life, healing, and restoration are found in a place characterized by death and barrenness.

Epidaurus Health Club and Resort

Epidaurus (Epidavros in Greek) is basically set up as an all-inclusive health club and resort. This is where wealthy Greeks would come for treatment of certain diseases or just to obtain better overall health. The patron god of this town was Asclepios, the healing god. His priests were also doctors at the resort. I call it a resort because it wasn’t really a town of its own. Very few people actually lived there. Most people only came for short periods of time (a few months at most) and lived in hotel rooms of sorts.

They had everything there – Roman-style baths, gymnasiums, a track, a theater for entertainment (the most well-preserved ancient theater in the world, I might add). The theater was a masterpiece, accoustic perfection. Our tour guide gave a demonstration to show us just how amazingly sound could be carried. I and several others went to the very top of the theater and could hear everything as if our guide were just a few feet away. We could hear him crumple and rip a piece of paper, whisper, even breathe. It was incredible.

If you were sick back in the day, this was definitely the place to be. You would be pampered, spoiled, and entertained until whatever ailed you eventually left.

I do find it interesting that the Greeks had a practice of making plaster molds or small sculptings of whatever body part wasn’t well and they presented that as an offering to the god Asclepios. They have found thousands of stone or plaster eyes, ears, noses, fingers, hands, feet, and certain other body parts which I will leave unnamed. I guess in the days of the early church, “miraculous” healings were promoted by the priests, but it was a big deal when Paul, Peter, and other apostles could actually do it.