I still pray before eating when I sit at a table. When I eat in front of the tv I sometimes dive right into my food.
My life has changed so much in the last 39 years. I’m nowhere near what I thought I would be when I was younger but the person I am is far better than I could have hoped. By ‘better’ I mean ‘happier’ and ‘more contented’.
I grew up in a family where the meals were taken together at a table. You did not miss a meal unless you were so sick you couldn’t walk to the kitchen. Before every meal one of the four of us kids would be delegated to say that go-round’s blessing. By the time we were six or seven we were expected to come up with something unique to us. Until then the pray-er would be allowed to say grace using this sing-song prayer:
God is great
God is good
Let us thank Him
For this food. Amen
As liturgies go it’s a fine one. Theologically sound, it captures the Almighty’s omniscience and benevolence. It teaches us gratitude and cements the idea of God as the ultimate provider. But I’ve heard that prayer so many times, said so hurriedly before tacos and slowly before meatloaf that I don’t often think of the words anymore. Even back then as a child it became known as ‘the lazy prayer’, with my parents telling us we had to say “more than godisgreat”, because that was how the prayer was known in our house. All one word like that, run together.
This is the harvest time now. Yom Kippur and Samhain and Sukkot and all the other rituals whereby we remember that the mundane things like the food we eat are the steam left on this earth by the breath of something greater than us. We subsist day to day because of the share we take in things beyond our control. Even if you are atheist you at some point come to the realisation that weather and time are outside human ability and have great effect on what is there for our consuming. As a Christian I like very much the idea that I can freely talk with and meditate upon That Who Is Greater than the greatest forces of this earth. Storms and flood and fire can ruin us, but all those are less than this God who exists beyond all things.
An old friend in remission from cancer once wrote me a thing that only those who are ill for a long time can truly comprehend fully. That in these hard dark times there is something wonderful about the closer a person can grow toward the almighty. It’s true. In that way this sickness is a remarkable gift, a chance to spend time in conversation with the I Am. To move beyond the singsong rhyme of liturgy into a higher and closer walk.