Tuesday, January 28, 2014
The earliest praying I learned to do was at the table before meals. For as long as I can remember each meal was preceded by a word of thanks to God. The prayers were not very spontaneous, but recited from memory. Most of us can still remember some version of the "God is great, God is good" tradition. It was an important prayer discipline. It instilled within me an awareness that being grateful to God for the things before me is always an important response. Surely, our grateful spirits please God.
Sometime last year in a secular magazine, I ran across an article on praying at meal time. I don't remember the name of the publication, but I remember some of the direction given on praying at the table. Before saying, "Thank You, God, for this food," the writer made some suggestions. First, he said take a moment to think about the process of getting the food to the table. Give thanks for all those who in some way touched the food on its journey from the dirt to the table. He also offered the suggestion of remembering those who suffer from not having anything or enough to eat. Such moments enable us to say thank you with far more meaning than we might do, otherwise. And his final suggestion was for what happened after offering thanks for the food and saying "Amen." Eat more slowly was the final word. Remember the cost of getting the food to the table, remember how blessed you are to be at a table with food, and remember, divine providence. Eating slowly shows appreciation and respect for all that the food is and all that it represents.
Of course, most of us do not have time for those kind of spiritual moments at the table. After all, table gatherings are about food, getting it into our bodies, and then getting on to something more important. It is sad that we allow life to so consume us that we cannot really take time to be thankful for the ordinary blessing of something to eat and someone with whom to eat. Our hurrying suggests that we forget that not everyone sits at a table like ours.