Over the past few years, much time has been spent researching family dinner. How many of us still strive to have family dinner everyday? Regular family meals have been shown to favorable impact children’s and adolescents’ food choices overall, weight, behavior, and other characteristics (check it out on Google Scholar).
I recently received a copy of the book Bless This Food by Adrian Butash. The following is an excerpt written by Adrian Butash about the book:
Sharing food is the most universal cultural experience. Expressing thanks for food was humankind’s first act of worship, for food is the gift of life from above. In every culture there are sacred beliefs or divine commandments that require honoring the giver of life — God or the divine principle — through acknowledging the sacred gift of food.
While prayers often derive from specific religious contexts, they may be experienced and enjoyed by all, just as religious music and fine art transcend their origins and have universal appeal. There are many nonreligious prayers that evoke spirituality by virtue of the beauty of the words and the underlying humanity that shines through.
Today, the notion of the family is under siege by a barrage of social ills, and family life may be disrupted by parents’ absence as they work two jobs, by divorce, or by frequent separation resulting from business travel that takes parents away from home. The family food blessing is a perfect and reverent way for the family to experience a direct kinship with the Almighty. A grace’s spiritual power can be felt as a profound sense of reality. God is present. A family praying together is a beautiful thing— a wonderful blessing all its own. When we say a grace at the table before eating, we give thanks for our togetherness, our blessings, and our happiness. For loved ones who are deceased, for friends and family who are far away, a grace said at the table that mentions their names is a magical way to honor them and have them rejoin the table in a sublime sense.
Food blessings provide a window to the profound spirituality that we all share and that connects us to all humankind, nature, and the infinite. Saying a blessing before a meal can bring us closer to our brothers and sisters, parents and friends. Asking a friend to choose and recite a food blessing is a wonderful way to welcome that person into your family setting. The occasional gathering for prayer, no matter how brief, keeps the heart and mind in touch with the most fundamental of joys: belonging.
This is a really neat book, giving and discussing different types of blessings or graces from all over the world and many different religions. The author suggests trying a new one out at meals, possibly having the guest read one. It may come in handy next time Corice asks a guest who is not of our particular faith to say the blessing on the food and the guest gets a bit nervous. It would also be a great way to foster dinner table discussions.
Excerpted from the book Bless this Food: Ancient & Contemporary Graces from Around the World © 2013 Adrian Butash. Printed with permission of New World Library, Novato, CA. www.newworldlibrary.com
Blessed are you, Lord, our God, King of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.
—Birkat Hazan (prayer before eating bread) (from the Torah)
Lord behold our family here assembled.
We thank Thee for this place in which
We dwell, for the love that unites us, for
The peace accorded us this day,
For the Health, the work, the food, and the bright
Skies that make our lives delight, for
Our friends in all parts of the earth.
Give us courage, gaiety, and the quiet mind.
Spare to us our friends, soften to us our enemies.
Bless us, if it may be, in all our innocent endeavors.
If it may not, give us the strength to encounter that which is to come.
May we be brave in peril, constant in tribulation, temperate in wrath,
And in all changes of fortune loyal and loving to one another.
—Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)