Alison very kindly suggested this Wednesday’s Big Word and I have to say that it was a difficult one. I mean, it’s not quite as general as the other words I’ve been tackling. But I think I’ve given it a good shot…so here goes…
Etymology: de- + Latin fenestra window
1 : a throwing of a person or thing out of a window
2 : a usually swift dismissal or expulsion
— defenestrate, transitive verb
I’ve been brought up to have good manners and so I’m not really to be found throwing things, especially people, out of windows. I mean, that’s littering is it not?! And maybe even dangerous! And its not something that usually encouraged or encountered in my day to day life.
In our modern, western world we like to keep our surroundings tidy and clean. Our floors are carpeted or panelled or tiled. Our streets are paved or covered in tarmac. Anything thrown out of a window would just sit on top of the ground, waiting for the wind to blow it away or the street cleaner to sweep it up or maybe just sit there and remind us of the perils of littering. And our windows are glazed, usually twice over to keep the outside from coming in.
But in Jesus’ day I can imagine the streets being dirt tracks, with dust constantly being blown about by the wind. A mixture of sand, gravel, stones and rocks. Debris carried on people’s feet from one place to the next. The windows being open, allowing the elements to enter freely, bringing a cool breeze in and taking the warm air out.
Although I still don’t see this as an excuse to just chuck anything I fancy right out of the window, I can imagine that there would be some things that might be considered ok to add to the dusty roads. Say, for example, salt.
Let’s imagine that I’m cooking up a delicious, comforting, heart warming meal in my Judean kitchen. I need some salt for the dish so I reach over and grab some from the pot on the table. I taste a little bit, just to make sure it’s still good. But it’s not very salty! I don’t need non-salty salt. That’s no good for my meal. I need it to be salty.
So what do I do? I put my hand out of the window and drop the non-saltiness to the floor (a little less risky that throwing it!), whereupon several passing neighbours and friends walk by and crush it into the ground. It becomes one with the road, the dust and the dirt.
"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.
"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
Would you get thrown out of the window?
Or are you salty?