by Lesle Knop
Even when our kids were young and life was hectic with games, lessons, non- stop birthday parties, rehearsals, performances, practices, meetings, check-ups, and the inevitable problems at work, we tried to have our meals together at the kitchen table.
No one reached for a spoon or a dish until all were seated and we said grace:
“Bless us, O Lord, and these your gifts, which we are about to receive from your bounty, through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.”
We frowned on answering the harvest gold telephone hanging on the kitchen wall with the long twisty cord until dinner hour was finished. Those were the days when our only television was in the family room, and it was usually turned off.
Cellphones, tablets, laptop computers and the Internet had not yet been invented. We searched for answers in a set of encyclopedias and the dictionary. We had mealtime conversations about the things we learned. Real conversations. With each other. Face to face. Can you imagine?
Saying grace was the formality that allowed the family communion to begin. Together we thanked God for the food, but also for friends and family. We remembered those who were alone or sick. We asked for help.
Saying grace before meals was a daily ritual that I learned from my parents. We said grace before meals when we visited our grandparents. We said grace when we were at our cousins’ houses. We said grace before and after our meals at school. We said grace when we went out for pizza or hamburgers. On feast days and other celebrations, the prayer varied — but only slightly. Mostly, we said grace. Simple grace.
Sometimes the youngest was asked to lead us in grace. Sometimes the oldest. Sometimes we heard a rhyme that the kids learned at school or at camp. Sometimes we sang. Sometimes prayer was rushed with hands flying to make the sign of the cross. Sometimes mumbled. Sometimes we prayed with reverence or in silence. Sometimes I don’t think we even realized that we were praying, lost in our own concerns of the moment.
“God is great, God is good.”
There is a peaceful, joyful, loveliness in the ritual of pausing during the day for just a minute to thank God for the blessings we receive in life.
“Oh, the Lord is good to me, and so I thank the Lord.”
What better way to demonstrate our understanding of stewardship than to proclaim aloud our praise and thanksgiving — whether we are alone, surrounded by family or having lunch with a friend.
Let’s say grace.