Growing up, we weren’t big on “saying grace”. It was something we did for holidays, but not any other time. And, when it was the holidays, it was somewhat perfunctory. Christian faith, and particularly Catholicism, has its rituals and grace is one of them. Unfortunately, like many of the rituals, they are not very inclusive of other religions. Sometimes the rituals are so formal, they even feel exclusionary to the members of that faith who chafe with rigour or discipline or rote regurgitation of prayers.
Yet, I feel like I’m missing out on something. Not in the sense of worshiping a deity in some formal manner, but in not pausing before meals just to reflect for a moment. Andrea, Jacob and I have already instituted a “daily gratitude” ritual of sorts of writing down our favorite part of the day, putting it on a small index card, and throwing it in a box that we’ll open at the start of the new year and relive some favorite moments of the past year. And as much as I’m enjoying that ritual, I’m still looking for a daily, umm, prayer of thanks, for lack of a better phrase.
I don’t want it to be denominational or exclusionary — I would want it to be as open as possible, something pretty much anyone of any faith could hear and not be offended by, yet still have some meaning behind it. Generally, the non-denominational prayers that are out there talk about varying elements:
- emphasizing the value of nature;
- recognizing the human effort in growing, gathering, transporting and preparing food;
- reflecting on the importance / blessing of bringing family and friends together for a meal;
- noting those less fortunate; and,
- being grateful for the things that one has in their life.
I like the last three, not sure about the first two. I don’t discount them, I just don’t know that they resonate very strongly with me, at least not in the short term. At best, I am drawn to the following ideas:
As we enjoy each other’s company, let our thoughts also go out to absent family and friends that we hope are safe and well.
As we sit down to this meal, let us be mindful of the good things we have and remember those whose lives are more affected than our own, who may be hungry, sick or cold so that we may respond to those in need with wisdom and compassion.
As we share this meal, let us be thankful to those who prepared and served the meal, may this meal bring us all strength and health.
It’s hardly elequent, but it captures most of what I want to give thanks for, a daily “opportunity” of sorts to further count my blessings.