This past Saturday was the last one that I will spend listening to some of my favorite NPR programs for a while. During the fall, I will be leading workshops around the country most Saturdays, and when I am not I will be firmly glued to the television watching college football. It is my favorite addiction.
One of the NPR shows I will miss the most for the next few months is “The Splendid Table” hosted by Lynne Rossetto Kasper. You expect to hear great cooking advice on it but not a Liberating Word. This week, however, one of her guests was Chef Pierre Thiam who said, “Teranga is the word that symbolizes Senegal the best.”
I want to tell you that teranga is the word that symbolizes Christianity at its best. It literally means “sharing your bowl,” but it is more than that. It is an attitude, a way of life and living. It is more than hospitality. It is more than welcome. It is embracing the other because you understand that thus your life is enriched and enlarged. It is the art of living with an openness and generosity, creating a flow of life that allows life to go out from you so that more life can come into you.
Jesus talked about how rivers of living water would flow from those who believed in him. Notice he did not say that rivers of living water would flow INTO those who believed in him. Christians are not reservoirs or cisterns or stagnant containers. We are channels through which the blessings of life flow.
Teranga is the art of living in such a way that we do not hinder the flow. Is that how you are living? Look in your closets, your garage, your storage. Do you really need all that? Someone does. Maybe you can buy one less thing that you don’t really need this week so that someone else can have something they do need. It is a small thing, but small deeds begin to open the flow of the mighty river of life.
Teranga: May that be your Liberating Word for today!
Rev. Michael Piazza