June 9, 2020
I have been in Tanzania for about 11 months now. One of the most striking aspects of the people is their genuine hospitality. The greeting in Swahili of “Karibu” (“welcome”) is constantly among the first phrases that people speak when they see me. But, it is not just the words, but the actions of people that speak volumes. I have been welcomed into simple dwellings and have been served food and drink that is dearly secured for their own existence. I have been hesitant to take the little that people have, but to refuse would be an insult to their gracious generosity and hospitality.
It is a humbling experience to be on the receiving end of these gifts. I realize, now, that I had supposed that I would be the one who would be “giving” to these “poor” people. However, in retrospect, I realize that I have received much more than anything that I have contributed. The people here remind me to appreciate what I take for granted. They remind me that real generosity is most evident when I share from the little that I have. They remind me that it is so easy to put our trust in so many things, instead of in God. They remind me to note the simple things in life, like a smile, a hug, and a gracious welcome, some rice and fruit.
At the Eucharist, we come with meager gifts of bread and wine, which represent all that we are—our joys and sorrows, our accomplishments and sacrifices, our strength and our frailty—and we are caught up into the generative life of God’s forgiveness, love, peace, and justice. This most holy day of the Body and Blood of Christ is a time for us to give thanks to the one who gave of himself so that we might have life, and to appreciate the many seemingly insignificant ways that this grace is made manifest in our lives.