Saying Grace Together
Saying grace together at mealtimes is an excellent way to "practise gratitude" and grow closer together as a family or as a class, in a way that teaches children where their food comes from. Perhaps every day should be thanksgiving!
Oh, the Earth is good to me,
And so I thank the Earth,
For giving me the things I need,
The sun and the rain and the apple seed.
The Earth is good to me.
That's the grace I learned at camp as a kid. We sang it before every meal. At home though, we only said grace before dinner on Thanksgiving and Christmas — which didn't make much sense to me, unless it was really my mother we were thanking, because she had done all the cooking!
Saying "thank you" is something that we need to be taught. Babies do not say thank you for their milk, or for being changed, or for any of the amazingly hard work that goes into keeping them alive and showing them they are loved.... Just as we need to learn to walk and to speak and to read and write, we need to learn how to show gratitude.... We need to learn how to say thank you.... The first lesson in saying thank you is to recognize that what you have is a gift.
— The Rev. Allan Farris, St. James Presbyterian Church, Winnipeg
My sense is that most families no longer include saying grace together as one of their family rituals. Certainly most schools and classes don't say grace before lunch. And yet, how do we teach our children where their food comes from, and how lucky they are to have food on their plates, without saying thank you out loud to the Earth and the Creator, the farmers, the cook(s), and the animals who gave their lives (if meat is on the menu)?
Here is the grace we now use in our family, and we try to remember to use it before or during every meal. It is a combining of a grace my husband heard in Mexico many years ago, and something we learned about our interconnectedness with the rest of Nature from our First Nations / Native North American friends:
Health to the Whole Earth,
May we never hunger.
Health to the Rivers and the Oceans,
May we never thirst.
All Our Relations.
That might not seem like much of a grace sitting here on your computer screen, but if you witnessed the intensity with which our wonderful niece, Savannah, says "All our relations," you would hear how much she has learned to be grateful.
All religions can be summed up in one word: gratitude.
— Chief Leonard George
How does your family say thank you for the gifts you receive from Mother Earth at mealtime? I'm also curious about whether schools are still saying grace together before sharing meals. It seems like a lost art, a lost act — and certainly a lost opportunity to build gratitude as a habit of mind and heart.
Kerri from the United States shares this:
We believe it is important as a family to give thanks for our many blessings in life, and that includes the meals in which we partake every day, which might very well be taken for granted if we did not choose to recognize that the opportunity to eat when hungry truly is a gift we should be thankful for. Here is our family's blessing:
Thank you to the farmers who worked in the field,
Planting and harvesting the food for our meal.
Thank you to the sun and rain that helped the food to grow.
Thank you to the sky above and the earth below.
Peace on earth, health to all our relations,
and blessings on our meal.
Thank you, Kerri, for sharing your family's grace with us.
Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we did not learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we did not learn a little, at least we did not get sick, and if we got sick, at least we did not die; so, let us all be thankful.
If you'd like to share your "grace" (or a story about saying grace together) with others, you can do so on the Prayers for the Earth page.
Many thanks to you for caring about gratitude and
saying grace together!
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