My Spiritual Challenge for the month of November is to write and use a Table Grace. If you live with others, perhaps make it a household or family project. Numerous studies in fields ranging from neuroscience to psychology have found that people who consciously practice gratitude or counting their blessings overall tend to be happier and less depressed than those who do not. Mealtime is often cited as a casualty of modern life. Perhaps for the first time in human history have human cultures developed that don’t ritualize mealtime and the blessing of and giving thanks for the food.
Neuroscience research tells us that our brains have “negativity bias” that is hard-wired by evolution to focus on fear and danger and take less notice of contentment and positive feelings. This has helped us survive, but now is a root cause of chronic anxiety, depression, and worry. Studies show that a simple regular practice of taking notice of positive feelings, giving them a moment to register and allowing them to cause a response of gratitude can help diminish the negativity bias and restructure neural pathways in a positive direction. Brain researcher Rick Hanson calls this process “experience-dependent neuroplasticity,” and says “the main way to develop inner strengths is to have experiences of them; repeated feelings of gratitude make a person more grateful. As neuroscientists might say, positive neural traits are built from positive mental states. “
My wife and I say grace every time we eat meals together, which is most nights. She often says a prayer common to the Episcopalian Christian tradition as she is an Episcopal priest. I usually say something simple and rooted in the awareness many people don’t have food or family to share it with. Your grace can be very simple or very complicated. It can be short or long.
Why do we say Grace?
1. To say “thank you!” - it's one of the 3 basic prayers: Help! Thanks! & Wow!
2. For the earth
3. For the food
4. For the people who made it, harvested, served it AND
5. For people who don't have any food or anyone to share meals with.
6. For the other blessings/good things in our lives
Grace from the World’s Religions
Blessed are Thou, L-rd our G-d,whose presence fills the universe bringing forth bread from the earth.
God is great! God is good!
Let us thank God for our food. Amen.
This ritual is One.
The food is One.
We who offer the food are One.
The fire of hunger is also One.
All action is One.
We who understand this are One.
May we be well, happy, and at peace. May we be free from pain, hunger, and suffering.May all beings be well, happy, and at peace.
May they be free from pain, hunger, and suffering.
Before meal: In the name of Allah and with the blessings of Allah.
After meal:Praise be to Allah Who has fed us and given us drink, and made us
Note: In Islam prayers are words and gestures peformed and said at appointed times of day. Giving thanks before a meal is a “du’a” - a way of connecting to God at any time of day. A du’a before and after eating is also an individual prayer, not a communal one. Each person will say their own private du’a before and after eating.
SOME UU Graces
Social Justice Grace
For those who are hungry, we ask for bread; and for those of us who have bread, may we hunger for peace and justice.
Interdependent Web Grace
Earth, fire, water, air and space have combined to make this meal.
Numberless beings gave their lives and their labors that we may eat.
May we be nourished so that we can nourish life. Amen.
Potluck Supper Grace based on Psalm 46
It is Good. It is good to be. It is good to be here. It is good to be here together. May this food and this time together be good for us.
Give thanks to the Mother Goddess, Give thanks to the Father Sun.
Give thanks to the plants and the flowers in the garden, Where the Father and the Mother are one.
As we gather for this meal, may we be grateful
for food in a world where many are in hunger,
for safety in a world where many are in fear,
for friends in a world where many are alone.