It is right to give thanks and blessing when we eat. Food is so important, and so much goes into providing it, that mealtimes are an important time to stop for a moment and give thanks. It is also the easiest of rituals to introduce into our lives, and the importance of ritual is something we’ve lost track of in the modern, Western world.
I am now reworking the blessing my family uses. Before my first son was born, I prayed silently, thanking the Goddess/Earth and the God/animal, asking and offering blessing for the food. But when my first son was born, I wanted a simpler, more inclusive ritual that could be easily said in unison as a family, and that wouldn’t be a divisive thing when including friends and family of other faiths.
Thank you for this food
Bless it to us
This prayer is so short and so simple that it often takes guests off-guard. It is so short that it risks being lost, and so I’ve learned that it is very important that we take hands, pause in silence, pray, pause, and release hands. If we don’t do it that way, it becomes nothing but a mumble. But then I’ve noticed that in the longer prayer-poems that are popular with children, if they’re not given in the right spirit.
My boys are a bit older now, and it’s time to expand our ritual a little. The thanks we give are to many things, and my boys need to learn what those things are. We are thanking the Universe, the Earth, the plants and animals that gave their lives, the preparer of the food, the provider of the food, those who worked to raise it. I’ve started to ask the boys afterwards what else they are thankful for, and soon I will let them lead the prayer and add their specific thanks to it. We ask for blessings from the universe, but we also offer our own blessings as part of the universe. Blessing food is a powerful thing. We infuse it with ourselves; we offer it to others. To eat together is an intimate thing. It is a time to remember that we are still just animals, and a time to remember that we are more than just animals. It is certainly a time to give thanks.